With ‘new blood’ and new ideas, businesses grow and innovate – and yet it has become increasingly more difficult for older industries to attract new talents, as well as for masters of their trade to pass the baton on to a younger generation. What happens when young people are not only disinterested in the industry, but completely indifferent?
With the help of Loftwork, scaffolding rentals company ASNOVA has decided to tackle the issue with long-term strategies, rather than quick fixes. Through the framework of ‘CSV management’ (Creating Shared Values), which aims to engender corporate growth by solving societal problems first, the company is now laying the foundations of talent recruitment.
Bridging the gap between industry and young people through digital media
ASNOVA Corporation (hereinafter referred to as ASNOVA) is predominantly involved in the business of temporary scaffolding rentals. Wanting to revitalize the scaffolding industry, the company is now taking on the growing industry challenge of talent drain.
For this particular project, which is only the starting point of ASNOVA’s reorientation towards CSV management, the goal was to unveil the mysterious working world of scaffolders – something relatively unknown to others outside the field. By presenting this side of the industry to the public, we hoped to draw in not only ‘new blood’, but new insights and technologies, thereby expanding the network of people wishing to interact with this industry. Once that idea was clear, we set out to design and build online media, creating a ‘field’ to attract and cultivate the interest of the next generation.
Before we were set on the direction of the digital content, we used design research methods to explore the reasons behind the scaffolding talent drain and the ways in which we could increase people’s interest in the field. We learned that young people were largely disinterested in the industry itself; therefore, before we could even promote its selling points, we needed to engage and connect people with the industry.
We decided to go beyond the narrow characterization of scaffolding as a mere ‘building material’ and take a broader view of it as a ‘temporary object’. We created the online magazine ‘Pop-Up Society’, based around the theme of transience, with more than 60 contributors and 15 articles to bridge the gap between the industry and young people. To design a more layered communication experience, the scope of our campaign included not just digital media, but also streaming events and zines. Our goal was to design something akin to a ‘professional field’, drawing young people interested in ideas of transience and new technologies into the world of scaffolding.
- Supported areas:
Design research, project development, information design, visual design, programming, development, content production
- Project period
Research and project development: April 2019 – June 2019
Website construction: October 2019 – March 2020
Pop-Up Society online magazine
Listen to the livestream here
“It has nothing to do with me” – Transforming indifference into appeal
To find solutions for talent drain, we interviewed individuals in the industry to explore the reasons behind the difficulties in talent recruitment.
Before conducting our research, our hypothesis had been predicated on the image of the profession being “hard, dirty and dangerous”. However, we soon discovered the key reason was not so much rooted in negative stereotypes, but rather, a wall of indifference between scaffolding and young people, underpinned by those stereotypes. Young people, it seemed, were simply indifferent to the industry, driven by the idea that scaffolding “has nothing to do with me”. In other words, it would be impossible to attract their attention if we were to promote the industry directly.
Based on those findings, we adjusted our approach and decided that before introducing the appeal of the scaffolding industry, we needed to try to bring in people from outside the industry and expand the network of people connected to the industry – under the premise that “no one was interested”.
The three ‘walls’ between scaffolders and young people
- The wall of indifference: “I don’t know anything about it” and “it seems to be very hard” are the stereotypes that make most people intuitively believe that the world is irrelevant to them.
- The wall of lack of understanding: Even though some people have friends and relatives in the scaffolding industry and have access to relevant information, their understanding of the industry is still very limited – not knowing that this job is not only a test of planning ability, but also an important foundation for many other jobs.
- The wall of cognitive gap: Many people, even after entering the industry, eventually leave because of the gap between expectation and reality.
Creating content that attracts and entices young people into the industry
To reduce the turnover of scaffolders, industry reform is needed – and to achieve this goal, the presence of ‘new blood’ and collaborative partners is essential. In the course of our research, we explored the ways in which we could design a website to attract people outside of the scaffolding industry, underpinned by the hypothesis that people like to engage with digital media that disseminates information.
The target group of the website is young people between the ages of 18-35 years, especially those sensitive to social trends and value the fun of life – a group essential to the industry in the future. Since the theme of scaffolding is very niche, we extended the concept outward and set the theme on ‘transience’, in order to attract their attention.
During the production of the content, we borrowed from the ‘Johari window’ model to determine the direction of the project. This framework of self-analysis is often used to help people better understand their relationship with themselves and others. The scaffolding industry was set as the ‘self’, and those outside the industry as ‘others’. Our strategy was to start with an unknown area – and topics that, at first glance, did not seem directly related to scaffolding – that neither party knew about, and then slowly bring in the topic of scaffolding and pique their interests.
*‘Unknown self’: In this Johari window quadrant, the information is something neither ‘we ourselves’ nor the other party has.
We organized 15 articles under the name of ‘Issue 0’. Under the format of an irregularly published magazine, with each issue taking on its own individual design, the website would not need to be updated every day and become an operational burden. Moreover, with this kind of arrangement, we would have enough time to observe the impact of content after each issue, and then plan the future articles according to the public’s response.
Creating an ‘experimental field’ with diverse communication modes
In order to increase the impact of the online magazine and to make its existence known to more people, we decided to hold a live event. To address the unique ‘transience’ of scaffolding, we invited a number of guests already taking on their own small social experiments for a four-hour live stream. Our goal was to engage the audience first, and then slowly arouse their interest in the scaffolding industry, as well as convey the ASNOVA concept in the process. The number of online viewers for the whole livestream was maintained between 100-150 people, with 1700 views recorded after the broadcast – successfully creating a diverse range of contact with the general public.
Using contributors as a ‘medium’
A total of 67 contributors were involved with the online magazine. When deciding on the candidates, we took into account the need to expand the network, and invited people who would be able to bridge the gap between the industry and those on the outside. In order to open up the otherwise closed world of scaffolders and attract the attention of the general public, we invited contributors from all walks of life. These contributors served as a medium for people who have never been interested in the scaffolding industry to begin to take notice.
- 編輯策劃：榊原 充大（リサーチャー）、龍崎 翔子（ホテルプロデューサー）
- 共同撰稿人：杉田 真理子（アーバニスト）、Florian Stirnemann（建築家）、大山 顕（土木ライター）、泉 ひかり（パルクールアスリート）、森下 哲（営業部長/ASNOVA）、酒井 優衣（写真家）、今井 雄紀（編集者）、TNL（宇宙建築学サークル）、堀井 柊我（宇宙建築ベンチャーCDO）、座二郎（通勤漫画家）、株式会社渕上（丸太足場職人）、土門 蘭（小説家）、塩谷 敦（写真家）、ノーマン・イングランド（ゾンビ研究者）、岡本健（ゾンビ学者）、稲田 ズイキ（僧侶/ライター）、元木 大輔（建築家）、吉澤 瑠美（ライター）、斎藤 菜々子（写真家）、吉川 然（写真家）、YOSHIKO（モデル）、前田 瑶介（COO/WOTA）、中村 健太郎（プログラマ/建築・デザイン理論研究者）、垂水 佳菜（写真家）、矢野 直子（生活雑貨部企画デザイン担当部長/良品計画）、斎藤 勇一（ソーシャルグッド事業課長/良品計画）、霍野 廣由（僧侶）、釋 大智（僧侶）、杉本 恭子（ライター）、岡安 いつ美（写真家）、Emily Wang（台湾文化・創造開発財団）、Tim Wong（LOFTWORK台湾ファウンダー）、甲斐 貴大（建築家）、Cindy Wu（写真家）、近藤 弥生子（ライター）、タケウマ（イラストレーター）、社領 エミ（ライター）、山田 貴仁（建築家）、下寺 孝典（屋台研究家）、仁科 桐也（写真家）、番匠 カンナ（バーチャル建築家）、平塚 桂（ライター）
- Web：PANORAMA（デザイン）、坂田 一馬（コーディング）、ネクストページ（開発）
- ZINE：畑 ユリエ（デザイン）
- 取材協力：Sensible4、古風小白屋、京都府文化財保護課、横浜市文化観光局観光振興課＆建築局公共建築部施設整備課、日建設計、日建設計コンストラクションマネジメント、渡辺組、良品計画、THE VR ROOM KYOTO
- 廣播出演：赤松 悠実（ラジオDJ/女優）、はましゃか（フリーランサー）、藤村 昌平（ビジネスインキュベーション部長/ライオン株式会社）、徳田 博丸（喜劇作家、脚本家）、番匠 カンナ（バーチャル建築家）、小西 亮（サブスクBar どこでもマガリ管理人）、榊原 充大（リサーチャー)、中村 健太郎（プログラマ/建築・デザイン理論研究者）、 龍崎 翔子（ホテルプロデューサー）、鈴木 綜真（Placy代表/都市研究家）、井路 端健一（俳優）、中尾 周統（俳優）、藤原 麻友美 (女優）、海徳 桃代（女優）
Results and Future Direction
After the launch of the online magazine, the number of views reached an average of 5,000 UU (Unique Users) and 10,000 PV (Page Views) per month –with about 60% of them young people aged 25-34. In addition, we also received positive comments on social media, such as: “The main theme of transience is very good” and “That it is led by a scaffolding company is quite appealing”. Young people in the architecture and design industry have also given good feedback. With the goal we set at the beginning – to draw in people from outside of the scaffolding industry – kicking off to a good start, we will continue to add to the project and, little by little, bring about changes.