Social Innovation Concept






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Executive Summary

A digital academy is the proposed social innovation concept of this report. To ensure community engagement, the innovation will use a five-step framework that focuses on informing, consulting, involvement, collaboration and empowerment of the target group. The youth in Australia are the target group of the concept which aims to reach out to them using various social media platforms and the use of a website. The digital academy will equip the youth with digital skills such as content creation, the need to maintain ethics in digital transformation and online marketing amongst others. After acquiring the skills, the academy will assist the youth to access employment opportunities by connecting them with organisations undergoing digital transformations. The digital academy will equip the youth with skills that are in high demand due to the globalisation of the world economy. Grants from youth organisations are one of the sources of funding that this concept will use. An ethical implication of the digital academy is privacy associated with the information collected. A rise in the number of digital services is an environmental implication of this socially innovative concept. Some of the challenges in implementing this project include a rise in the number of cyber-attacks and competing priorities for companies.



Social Innovation Concept Report

Social Innovation and Community Engagement Theory

            Social innovation is the creation of new concepts, strategies and development of ideas that aim at meeting the social needs of individuals (Hou and Han, 2016, p. 6). Social innovation includes all developments that are made with a social purpose such as activism, empowerment programs, volunteering, distance learning and microcredit. Innovations which use open source methods and techniques in their development stage are also considered social innovations. Social innovation is one of the fastest growing trends in most industries as organisations seek to create competitiveness while at the same time, meeting the needs of the society (Euronews, 2015). The aim of this paper is to provide a report on a socially innovative concept that can meet the needs of a group of vulnerable individuals in the society.

Community Engagement Theory

            Community engagement is ensuring that the individuals who are targeted by the social innovation concept become involved with it (Head, 2007, p. 442). The community engagement theory is a tool that is used to plan community engagement based on two critical factors which are how deep and how broad a project is intended to be. All the choices of a project which includes the activities, the perspectives and the mode of communication with the target group are dependent on the two main factors identified above (Head, 2007, p. 443). The community engagement theory is built on a five-step framework that provides guidelines for the participation of individuals from the targeted group in the society. The framework is based on five levels of engagement which all aim at promoting the involvement and participation of individuals in the social innovative concept (Bowen and Herremans, 2010, p. 298). The theory also uses the wheel of participation as another framework to promote engagement in the community projects. The wheel of participation is based on four concepts which include the provision of high-quality information, consultation with the target groups, encouraging participation through collective decision making and partnerships and empowerment mainly by delegating the control of the project (Bowen and Herremans, 2010, p. 315).

            In this report, the five-step framework will be used to encourage community engagement in the socially innovative project. The first step will be to inform the target group of the need of the concept by helping them to understand the problems they face and how the idea will deal with those challenges to provide solutions and alternatives. Informing will be done through newsletters, social media marketing and the use of websites. The second step will be to consult with the community to obtain their feedback and alternative ideas from them. To invite the responses of the community, focus groups, public meetings and surveys will be used.

            The third step is to involve the members of the community directly into the project. The involvement will be an ongoing process where individuals will participate in workshops, advocacy and deliberative polling in regards to the project. The fourth step will be to collaborate with members of the target group. In this step, the community members will be required to formulate solutions for challenges experienced throughout the project development program and to provide recommendations on possible ways of improvement. Collective decision making will be used as the tool to ensure collective decision making. The final step is empowerment which includes capacity building for the community to ensure that the socially innovative idea can run smoothly when left in their hands. The use of community development trusts is the most effective tool for empowering members of the community.



Proposed Social Innovation

            The youth are the target group for the socially innovative idea. The youth in Australia are some of the individuals affected by diverse types of disadvantages such as unemployment, high rates of suicide, drop out from school, depression and drug use (Mission Australia, 2017, p. 16). In fact, unemployment of the youth is one of the most pressing needs that the Australian society faces (Mission Australia, 2017, p. 21). The use of digital solutions to empower the youth by providing them with employment opportunities in the proposed social innovative idea for this report. A digital assistant academy is a digital concept that will be developed to assist the youth to gain employment opportunities. The digital assistant academy will provide the youth with skills that they require to engage in social media and digital marketing, website development, content creation and freelance digital assistance. After acquiring the skills, the academy will link the youth with small businesses and start-up companies which are in need of the services.           The initiative is flexible which allow the youth to work from the comfort of their homes as they also engage in other activities such as school work. Moreover, youths from low-income families can use this initiative to earn extra income and support their families. To reach the youth in Australia, advertisements about the digital academy will be placed on different social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. A website and pages on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram will also be created where the youth can visit to create accounts and get newsletters regarding the digital academy. Statistics indicate that the average youth spends approximately one-third of their day on the internet (Tsukayama, 2015). Therefore, the use of online methods of advertisement will be highly effective in reaching out to the target group.

            The use of the digital academy idea will provide support to the youth by closing the gap in skills (Bridgstock, 2009, p. 32). When most organisations are conducting their hiring processes, they look for individuals with experience because it is a guarantee of skills required by the specific job positions. The requirement for individuals with skills often places the youth at a disadvantage since most of them are seeking for their first job positions after completing their education. The digital academy will bridge this gap by equipping the youth with the skills they require and providing them with opportunities for employment so that they can gain an experience. The digital academy will contribute towards the common good of the society because it will allow small companies, individual entrepreneurs and start-up businesses to access digital services at pocket-friendly costs. Therefore, as the youth gain employment, the companies will get opportunities for expansion hence increased productivity and output which will positively influence the growth of the economy (Flanagin and Metzger, 2008, p. 12). Moreover, as the youth access employment opportunities they will be empowered to become investors and entrepreneurs and reduce the social issues associated with unemployment such as depression, high suicide rates, engagement in criminal activities and drug use (Grimm, et al., 2013, p. 440). The implementation of this project will take a collaborative approach where the involvement of the government will be sought (Ziegler, 2017, p. 390). The department of education and the department of the youth and community services are relevant to the implementation of this concept especially in the informing and empowerment stages of community engagement.

Analysis of the Concept

SWOT Analysis of the Digital Academy


  • A tool that provides the youth with the skills they require to be successful online entrepreneurs such as email marketing, social media marketing and engine optimisation amongst others.
  • Enhanced accountability as the youth will be required to provide personal information which will be verified as they create their accounts on the application. The accounts will be used to monitor the progress of the users to ensure that they provide high-quality work to the companies and individuals who employ them.


  • The digital academy cannot track unemployed youth who are offline since it is an online-based intervention.


  • To work collaboratively with the Australian Department of Education to integrate the digital academy into the curriculum in higher education and use it as a tool to equip the youth with digital skills required in the workplace.
  • A tool that the youth can use to create and mobilise their networks, online brands, small companies and start-up businesses.


  • The tool may provide an opportunity for rampant cheating as some youth use false information to create multiple accounts. Moreover, digital information can be easily shared, revised, redistributed and remixed.


PESTLE Analysis of the Digital Academy

Political Factors

Political stability in Australia will influence the number of investors in the country who will create employment opportunities for the youth who use the digital academy.

Regulation and de-regulation of the use of the internet especially social media platforms. Australia should not ban the use of social media platforms to ensure that the youth get opportunities for online and email marketing.

Government funding. Financial support from the department of education and that of youth services will provide the resources required in implementing and launching the digital academy.

Economic Factors

Trade agreements with other countries such as Europe, the UK and the US will encourage investors in Australia who will provide employment opportunities for the youth.

Economic stability characterised by low inflation rates, economic growth, high gross domestic product and fair wage rates will boost government and individual spending hence increase employment opportunities for the youth.

Fair exchange rates to encourage foreign investment. Foreign investment will result in an increase in the number of multinational companies and hence boost digital marketing opportunities for the youth.

Socio-cultural Factors

A rise in social influencers who act as role models and opinion leaders to encourage consumers in Australia to buy products and services online. As online consumers increase, the investment of companies in digital marketing increases hence providing opportunities for the youth to apply the skills learnt through the digital academy.

Changing consumer attitudes and shopping habits will provide the youth with opportunities to be creative on how they can meet the ever-changing needs of the consumers. For example, the use of online shipping, home-delivery, and real-time tracking of goods in transit.

Technological Factors

Advancements such as the use of new software to assist businesses to engage in customer and supplier relationship management will provide more digital employment opportunities for the youth.

Improved business models such as online stock management to reduce extra costs for running companies will increase the employment opportunities for the youth.  

Legal Factors

Laws on digital ownership to provide copyright protection to the youth who develop intellectual property. Such laws will encourage the youth and increase their employment opportunities.

Environmental Factors

Policies on environmental protection. The use of the internet contributes to a paperless industry hence reducing the rate of deforestation. As companies seek to abide by the policy on environmental protection, they will look for individuals with digital skills and hence provide employment opportunities to the youth.

Possible Funding

            Grants from non-profit organisations are one of the possible sources of fund for the digital academy idea. To access the funding, the youth will draft a proposal explaining to the organisations about the digital academy and how it aims at dealing with societal problems by providing employment opportunities to the youth and equipping them with digital skills. When possible, testimonials of some of the youth who have been positively impacted by the program will be included. Some of the organisations include Young Scientists of Australia and Pathways Foundation amongst others.

Ethical Implication

            Privacy issues are one of the ethical implications of the digital academy (Nunan, 2013, p. 512). The academy seeks to provide online job opportunities for the youth such as digital marketing, customer relationship management and content creating. As the youth collect data for analysis, it allows them to access private information about consumers and businesses. Since the youth are a third party agency, they pose the risk of misusing the information they collect or leaking it to spammers who send unsolicited emails and messages to random individuals. The digital academy will develop a code of conduct that the youth should abide by to ensure that they respect the privacy of the information they access.



Environmental Implication

            The digital academy will lead to a rise in the number of digital devices. An environmental implication for the rise of digital devices is pollution especially in the disposal process (Grossman, 2007, p. 56). Digital devices are upgraded by the day which provides individuals with the need to acquire better-performing ones with enhanced features. To ensure that the digital academy does not contribute to environmental pollution, the youth will be advised to acquire devices that are upgradable. Acquisition of upgradable devices will ensure that when new software is launched onto the market, they will just update instead of acquiring new gadgets.

Challenges of Implementation

            Competing priorities is one of the challenges in implementing the digital academy. The digital academy focuses on accessing employment opportunities for the youth from the digital transformation in companies from various industries in Australia. Although there are numerous opportunities for digital transformation in industries due to the globalisation of the world economy, some companies still prefer to have in-house employees as opposed to third party agencies. Therefore, to ensure that companies can trust the youth in the digital academy and employ them, an awareness campaign must be conducted to ensure that management in different companies understands how they can reduce the societal problems caused by unemployment. Due to the competing priorities, the implementation phase of the digital academy may take a long time as companies seek to adopt its use.

            A rise in the number of cyber-attacks is another challenge that faces the implementation of the digital academy. Companies that engage the services of the digital academy will be required to share some of their private information such as their IP addresses and customer details which makes them vulnerable to hackers who may access their databases and financial information. Large companies such as Yahoo, Equitax and Target Stores have fallen victim of cyber-attacks which makes small businesses and start-up companies to be extremely cautious of the third party agencies they agree to work with (Larson, 2017). To overcome this challenge, the digital academy will strengthen its security system to reduce the risk that hackers may access their information and hence that of the companies who employ them. The training in the digital academy will also incorporate an ethical program to ensure that the youth understand the risk of engaging in hacking activities or leaking the private information they receive from their employers.


The digital academy is a new technological concept that seeks to meet the need for employment for the youth in Australia. The youth in Australia are a vulnerable group who are at a risk of facing great disadvantages including discrimination as they seek for employment opportunities. Moreover, the digital academy will deal with other social issues that Australia deals with as a result of youth unemployment such as drug use, high rates of criminal activities, and prevalence of suicide. The digital academy provides the government with an opportunity to meet the social needs of the Australians as they integrate it into youth services and the curriculum to ensure that the young people not only get equipped with necessary skills but that they also access employment opportunities.




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