About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

A fresh face for the Living Map of Jobs Innovators

May 2019 - Please note: the Jobs Innovators site has now closed and links to it have been removed.


Two years ago we launched our Living Map of Jobs Innovators [site now closed], a guide to some of the most impressive projects helping people to find work, stay in work and progress in work. We came across many of them while researching our Making it Work report.

Back then in March 2013, there were 25 million people unemployed across the EU - well over twice the population of Belgium. Young people were suffering even more, with almost one in four unemployed. The UK labour market had fared well in the aftermath of the financial crisis, but there were still over two and a half million people out of work in Nesta’s home country.

While there is room for cautious optimism today, the picture is only a little rosier: there are still over 23 million jobless people in the EU, including 1 in 5 young people. Again, the UK has fared relatively well, but there is no room for complacency. This year, unemployment rose for the first time in two years and we’re all aware of concerns over the rise of zero-hours contracts, part-time work and self-employment (not inherently “bad” things, it must be pointed out) and poor-quality jobs. The government’s flagship Work Programme has done well for some groups but been criticised by charities and the National Audit Office for its poor performance for people furthest from the labour market.

Over this time we’ve continued to be impressed by great employment initiatives across the UK and beyond, so today we’re relaunching the Living Map with a new look and loads of new innovators. We hope it will help people interested in the field to find out what’s going on and help promote some amazing efforts.

You can search the innovators by theme [site now closed] to find what’s most interesting and useful for you. You can read full descriptions of the categories on the website, but here’s a quick look at the key issues these innovators are looking to address:

  • Employment Readiness - How can we help people of all ages prepare for work in a changing labour market through training, education, work experience and social action?
  • Overcoming the barriers to employment - What can we do to help people with complex and multiple needs - physical and mental disabilities, histories of offending or substance abuse, childcare requirements, geographical isolation - to (re-)enter the labour market?
  • Integrated employment support - How can we bring different parts of government, the private sector and charities together to provide services which recognise how the different issues facing people all interact with each other?
  • New forms of working - How can we find inclusive solutions to the challenges arising from structural changes in the labour market? How can we make work more flexible and adaptable?
  • Unleashing untapped assets for employment support - How can we harness what we call “untapped assets” - spaces, time and even people - to get more output from what we’ve already got?
  • Improving matching of people to work - An ongoing problem in the labour market concerns not a lack of jobs or a lack of skills, but rather difficulties in matching the two together correctly. How can we get better at matching the right person to the right job?
  • Supporting self-employment and entrepreneurship - How can we provide support for people who want to become self-employed or start their own business, and help those who’ve already done so go even further?
  • In-work support - Given the large numbers of people moving in and out of work on a regular basis, and of people stuck on low-pay, how can we help people stay and progress in their jobs?
  • Innovative employer engagement - Employers are (obviously!) a key part of getting people into work, but often seen as “absent”. How can they engage in new and committed ways?

You can also search them by who benefits, which we hope will be useful if you work with particular groups. And, as ever at Nesta, we want to know that innovation has a real impact (good intentions don’t always make a positive difference!), so we’ve also tagged innovations by their evidence stage on the Nesta Standards of Evidence. We’ve had to use our best judgement, and are bound to have made mistakes - so please let us know if you think we’ve categorised something incorrectly.

We’ve now got well over a hundred innovators online, and I’d find it difficult to select just a few to write about. Instead, I’d encourage you to take a look around yourself - try picking a category which interests you, or use the new Random Post generator. You might find something unexpectedly useful!

This Living Map is far from complete. There are some areas where we’ve struggled to find good examples, and we’d like to find more innovations from across the world. We also want to identify any areas we’ve missed where a health dose of innovation could change people’s lives. So if you know of anything great which we haven’t come across yet, or see room for more innovation, please do let us know via this form or by emailing us at [email protected].

Let us know what you think and happy reading.


Matt Stokes

Matt Stokes

Matt Stokes

Senior Researcher, Government Innovation

Matt was a senior researcher working on the collaborative economy and digital social innovation.

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