Working with Young People
RECRUITMENT OF YOUNG PEOPLE
It is safe to assume the candidates will not have all of the skills or knowledge required of them for their work on a data-arts project. During recruitment it’s crucial to look for young people who demonstrate evidence of the following:
- Relevant skills and interests
- Ability to work autonomously
- Enthusiasm to learn
When selecting multiple candidates, try and create a balance of skills: for example choose some designers, illustrators and animators, as well as those who have a background in more technical subjects or prior experience with code. This way, the group can support each other to deliver different aspects of the task. A team of two could work well if there was one ‘artist’ and one ‘techy’ but not two with the same skills.
TRAINING YOUNG PEOPLE
What skills do they need for the task?
Data can be represented and analysed in a variety of ways, so different data projects will require different skills. If the young people are going to work on a geotagging project, they will need photographic skills and the ability to geotag. Creating an infographic will require the knowledge to design and build it online. Please see the Skills Workshops section for more information about the skills needed for each kind of project.
LIKELY PROBLEMS – AND HOW TO RESPOND TO THEM
It can be challenging to deliver projects on time if you are working with a team of young people who have no experience of data projects; it may even be their first experience of working to a deadline. It’s important to give yourself more time than you think you need: always overestimate! Begin by agreeing on strict deadlines with the team of young people, introducing a firm attitude towards timing.
The young people are likely to be nervous about completing tasks they are not trained for and have no background in. This would be nerve-wracking for anyone, but particularly for a young person who has little experience in the world of work. This lack of confidence can lead to lack of communication; doing the wrong tasks through lack of understanding of what actually needs to be done, overcompensating by delivering more work than is necessary, or going the other way and doing no work at all.
Developing a sense of mutual trust, respect and understanding forms a basis for effective practice. Communicate expectations and information in clear and accessible ways; allow young people opportunities to feed back their ideas, experiences and understanding; listen actively and genuinely; and offer constructive responses. Avoid being overly critical; they need to be guided through the process clearly, with an optimistic attitude. Young people need to believe they can achieve the things they have been asked to do — encouragement, acknowledgement and positive feedback will help to boost their levels of confidence.