WorkerTech newsletter: March 2022

The latest update from Resolution Ventures


Thanks to Well_Lab, a collaboration between Wellcome Trust and Brink, yesterday I joined experts in work, employment, health and wellbeing at a round table to share ideas on what works and what doesn’t to improve worker wellbeing.

While no one had a one-size-fits all answer, it was inspiring to hear of so many initiatives to support people experiencing wellbeing issues at work, particularly at Barts NHS Trust where Well_Lab has experimented with structural changes to improve the wellbeing of key workers.

However, the discussion also highlighted the huge task ahead of us in improving how work and mental health interact.

Research from the Resolution Foundation shows that young people are particularly susceptible to work related mental health issues. In the post-pandemic labour market young people face pay scarring, insecure jobs and increased mental health risks. On top of this, the IFS found that young people are increasingly concentrated in low-paid occupations, and our own research found that workers in these low-paid jobs are experiencing much more stress at work than in equivalent roles 50 years ago.

This month we’re focusing on how to alleviate these pressures by sharing pioneering WorkerTech initiatives that support young people to improve their experience of work and mental health. If you’re working on an idea in this space, get in touch with us today.

Enjoy reading and as always, drop us an email if you’d like to know more about our work.

Emma Selinger
Ventures Manager
Resolution Ventures

Supporting young people to overcome challenges going into work

The interaction between work and mental health is critical for young people who still have the majority of their working lives ahead of them, with the pandemic playing a part in worsening both employment prospects and mental health for this group.

To set the scene, our own research at the Resolution Foundation found that young people are more likely to have a mental health condition than older people, and on the eve of the pandemic in 2020 30 per cent of young people in insecure work had a common mental health disorder.

The pandemic has served to throw this into sharp relief with research finding that in October 2021 young people who are workless or in atypical work having the highest levels of mental health problems.

Qualitative research from the Prince’s Trust described the impact of the pandemic on young people having triggered a ‘crisis of confidence’ with around half of the young people surveyed stating that they’d lost confidence in themselves and were unsure about how to get their life back on track. They also reported that young people whose employment had been unstable were more likely to report poor mental health.

All this (plus research from the IESWomen’s TrustLearning and Work InstituteSamaritans and many more) points to a need for young people to ultimately feel more confident about their future of work: to be informed about the opportunities available to them; to know where to go to access support; and to feel like they have the skills they need to nail a job interview. Here’s a snapshot of some ventures already tackling this:

📈 Ikigai Data – the latest addition to our portfolio, a careers data and insights company that works with education and employment partners to help everyone find work that’s right for them. Its key product is JobFit: a SaaS platform for education institutions to track and advance alumni employment outcomes, supporting users to feel confident about the career options available to them. You can read about what they’ve learnt from spending over 100+ hours in conversation with their users in this blog. 

👂 CareerEar–  an online platform helping career-seekers from underserved groups to make career choices and prepare for the future of work. By integrating multiple labour market data sets and skills frameworks, CareerEar provides personalised advice to career seekers on suitable career paths, and suggests live jobs or training opportunities to apply for. This video explains more about their current programme, Re:source.

📖 UpSkill Me – a platform providing content for students and young people that allows them to learn from inspiring speakers, entrepreneurs, careers advisers and employers about the essential skills they need to succeed in life.

🧱 Briqs – a recruitment platform supporting young people from underserved communities into jobs with wraparound training and mentorship. Recruits also go on to become lifelong Briqs members, owning part of the organisation.

🌊 Tranquiliti –  a wellbeing platform tackling mental health at an early stage. Tranquiliti helps schools deliver mental health support to their students leading to better outcomes for pupils, developing their resilience and confidence which will be vital when they transition to the labour market in the future.

💬 Spill – an employee wellbeing service that integrates with Slack to triage workers in need of professional mental health support, coach managers to be alert to worker wellbeing issues, and provide employers with an overview of their workforce wellbeing.

🎈Thrive – an interactive platform to support care leavers (a group particularly susceptible to poor mental health) into the world of work. Using machine learning, it provides personalised insights into vocational occupations, skill sectors, online learning, career coaching and work experience to help learners make informed choices.

If you’re working on a solution that tackles these issues, we’d love to hear from you too.

Latest insights from the Resolution Foundation

Inflation nation –  an assessment of the measures announced by the Chancellor in his Spring Statement, with a focus on what new policies mean for households on the lowest incomes. It finds that support is not well-targeted at low and middle income households, with just one in every three pounds of announced spending going to the bottom half of the income distribution. Incomes are on course to be lower at the next election (2024-25) than they were at the last (2019-20), with typical non-pensioner income projected to be 2 per cent lower.

The Living Standards Outlook 2022 – exploring how household incomes and inequalities may change over the next five years, based on the latest economic forecasts and Government policy. The preliminary estimate is that the conflict in Ukraine could push peak inflation in 2022-23 above 8 per cent, leaving the typical real household income for non-pensioners 4 per cent – or £1,000 – lower than in 2021-22.

Shrinking footprints – analysing how different households will face up to the challenges of changing climate policy and an effort to decarbonise the UK economy. From electric vehicles to household energy, without the government catalysing large amounts of both public and private capital, low income households risk missing out on the benefits of cheaper motoring and lower energy bills.

Workertech stories

Last month we wrote about the positives and pitfalls of working in the gig economy, and highlighted innovation seeking to improve the experience for gig workers. The hidden life of a courier from the Guardian sheds light on the challenges faced by gig workers on a day to day basis.

Every year during March, B Corp and B Labs run a campaign to promote what it means to be a B Corp, a business that meets high standards of social and environmental performance. Our portfolio venture, TaskHer, are pending certification and spoke about the importance of becoming a B Corp at an event with Bethnal Green Ventures earlier this month.

The Living Wage Foundation launched The Living Hours Index, a new perspective on irregular working hours and the problems they cause for workers such as late notice of rotas, cancelled shifts, irregular pay checks, and the premium associated with unpredictable work patterns such as higher travel costs or inflexible childcare costs. The report calls for a set of measures employers can use to tackle these problems.

Get involved

Our partners at Bethnal Green Ventures put together a list of initiatives from the Tech for Good community to tackle the humanitarian crisis happening as a result of the conflict in Ukraine. Their tweet thread lists the projects and explains how you can help.

Apply for direct investment from Resolution Ventures. We accept applications from WorkerTech ventures on a rolling basis. Or you can book a slot in our office hours for an initial conversation.

Subscribe to BGV’s brand new newsletter, Tech for Good Compass, the go-to place for resources and updates on the tech for good startup world.

Sign up to attend Year Here’s Spring Crowdbacker on Friday 1st April. Social entrepreneurs will pitch their ventures which tackle issues ranging from the green economy to inclusive service design.

The Care Innovation Challenge, a hackathon-style creative weekend of idea generation and prototype trialling focused on social care, is running in July 2022 for innovators based in the Midlands. Perks include cash prizes for the top spots, expert mentoring and guaranteed media coverage. Apply for a place.