I’m going to use this space for some notes on my studies again. This time it’s the PEST factors associated with my project. PEST stands for Political Economic Social and Technological. My project is related to numeracy for early school leavers and involves using concepts from creative digital media as a jumping off point (in place of concrete materials in mathematical strategy terminology) from which to approach abstract concepts.
So what are the political factors that might affect this project? One thing (that I have to admit I was conscious of) is the importance that is given to numeracy by decision makers in Ireland at the moment. It’s seen as an essential skill (which of course it is) and there is a general push towards projects that incorporate either numeracy or literacy. Similarly STEM fields (Science Technology, Engineering Maths) are seen as more profitable and ones worth investing in. So if I were to develop a tool that aided numeracy it would find itself in a favourable place politically than, say, something with more of an artistic slant. There is a movement towards STEAM (incorporating Art into STEM) which would also suggest a welcoming environment for my project.
My project centres around what is essentially a Labour Market Activation programme aimed at young people. With youth unemployment still unacceptably high in Ireland and across the Eurozone this is an area of some importance. The question is, of course, whether or not ones efforts are effective. From my own personal experience I know that many interventions at this level are not effective (or at the very least they have significant room for improvement). My hope is to provide a tool that sits within an effective program. A tool like this could never claim to be the sole difference between effectiveness and ineffectiveness. The wider program must be effective overall. My aim is to address an area of weakness an convert it into a strength.
The trends mentioned above sit within what I see as an inevitable change in society. The evidence for this is seen in the fact that similar changes are happening in other societies. The time in the life of a person that may be considered ‘youth’ is increasing all the time. Some theorists would regard 18-25 as a distinct stage in life between adolescence and adulthood and some policies now extend to those 35 and under. There are various reasons for this; the cost and time required to achieve a level of education and experience required to sustain an acceptable cost of living, the decimation of lower skilled jobs and the increase in transient labour. This can lead to the development of a various social issues many of which arise from the fact that a growing number of young adults are not working or studying and are becoming removed from society. This is the macro social context in which my project lies.
My project is dependent on recent technological advancements. It assumes a familiarity with certain concepts of digital media creation and uses those to build notions abstract concepts. This is to see technology as an advantage to be utilised. Engaging with it is somewhat inevitable and ought to be seen as obligatory (at least at some level) when dealing with young adults. I view it as an opportunity to improve engagement, as there is an existing understanding waiting to be tapped into.