Technology is set to transform the future of work. Artificial Intelligence is expected to be the engine driving rapid change, but how we experience new tech will often be through immersion in virtual worlds like the Metaverse. As we hurtle towards an uncertain future, what will be the risks and opportunities for young people who can already feel marginalised from society?
Working with young people from low-income backgrounds across Greater Manchester, we set out to provide answers to that question. The core insight from our ‘Social mobility in the Metaverse’ report is the need to demonstrate that new technologies provide opportunities for ‘people like them’ and their community.
Creating an internal desire to engage, sometimes referred to as intrinsic motivation, must be unlocked by policymakers and organisations. Four enablers have been identified to build social inclusion in the Metaverse:
Awareness: Build understanding about how it will influence the future of work and why a young person from a low-income background should engage in the Metaverse.
Accessibility: Ensure widespread access to immersive 3D experiences.
Skills: Provide young people with the support needed to thrive in this new environment.
Networks: Support young people to build a virtual network of work-related connections.
Responding to the report’s findings, EY Foundation CEO, Lynne Peabody said:
Organisations focused on supporting the future of young people must look ahead to the sort of world they are likely to be working in. This means acting now to advocate for the action needed to unlock opportunities and minimise risk associated with new technologies like the Metaverse. This report is an important step in that direction, and we look forward to working with employers, government, and other charities to implement these recommendations.
This pioneering project was delivered in collaboration with the EY Metaverse Lab team, who provided tech expertise and knowledge. Domhnaill Hernon, Global Lead at EY Metaverse Lab, said: ‘We all know that lack of access to technology can be a barrier to young people from a low-income background; however, the greatest insight I took away from this collaborative project was that even with access to the technology they are not incentivised to engage. Their intrinsic motivation to engage isn’t there because they don’t perceive the technology as enabling advantage for them directly.’
The lead partner was Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, who has statutory responsibility for media literacy. Ed Leighton, Director of Strategy, Ofcom said: ‘The Metaverse could represent a step change in how we live and work, so as we prepare for it, we must listen to the hopes and concerns of young people who may spend much of their working life in virtual spaces like this.’
The group was completed by award-winning artist, Alina Akbar, and the School of Digital Arts (SODA) at Manchester Metropolitan University who brought an alternative perspective to the issue. Kirsty Fairclough, Professor of Screen Studies, at SODA said: ‘Combining technological and artistic mindsets has been a powerful way to bring a new perspective to understanding the real-world implications of technology. I hope the recommendations generated are the start of a wider conversation about how new tech can evolve to embrace the needs of all parts of our community.’
To find out more about this project, please contact Ewan Bennie – email@example.com