The PONToon (Partnership Opportunities using New Technologies fostering sOcial and ecOnomic inclusioN) model will use a range of new technologies such as games development and 3D/virtual reality technology, social media and web/mobile apps to provide a model to engage with, support and up-skill women in order to support their economic inclusion. This represents a progression from the use of digital technologies for social inclusion to uses for economic inclusion.
The University of Portsmouth, CCI is lead partner in this three and a half year project, which officially began 7th June 2017, with a total budget of €5.8 million and 11 UK and French partners. Approximately €1.5 million total budget to UoP, 69% grant funded, 31% partner contribution.
Community development, social and economic inclusion and equality are at the heart of this research and innovation project, and our aim is to produce a scalable and transferable methodology that can be applied to broader demographic sets and geographical regions for continuing impact. The sudden growth of the digital/creative sectors has led to a digital skills shortage across these (by 2020, in both France and the UK, 90% of jobs will need digital skills). Employers across the FCE area demand employees have digital skills, and 72% of these will not consider applicants without them (UK government survey). Therefore, these sectors represent significant employment opportunities for our target group.
PONToon seeks the co-creation of a model fusing digital technologies and creative industries with existing employment support services to improve access to, and the quality and impact of, these for our target group. Women from diverse backgrounds experience difficulty in accessing equal training and employment opportunities across the FCE area. PONToon partners have identified challenges in service delivery faced by our target group preventing them from moving closer to the workplace (see next section).
DIGITAL SOCIAL CIRCUS
Carolyn Watt is a professional circus/cabaret performer and PONToon project PhD student (Oct 2016 – Sept 2019) in the Faculty of Creative & Cultural Industries (CCI) at the University of Portsmouth. Carolyn’s practice-based PhD is part funded by the Interreg 5A France (Channel) England Research project PONToon, June 2017 – November 2020, led by the University of Portsmouth UK.
Her research as part of the PONToon project investigates social circus enhanced by digital technologies to foster female empowerment. The digital social circus concept is being used as one way in which to invite participants to experience and engage with the digital world.
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