To shift the employment conversation in Hackney from securing entry-level jobs to thinking long term, Hackney Council wanted to help residents consider their future goals. Encouraging residents to consider alternative paths into work, including apprenticeships, training and other forms of career development would help people in the community secure good work.

Working with the council, we helped create a digital employment support service for Hackney residents.


We spent time with the existing employment service to better understand the needs of residents and staff, providing a broad understanding of the employment context in Hackney. We carried out interviews with residents to understand their individual needs and what they value most from the service. Working with the staff, we also observed recruitment applications, assessments and one-on-one sessions to build a detailed understanding of the end-to-end experience.

Our research led us to understand:

  • a great landing page is critical to gain interest in the service
  • a light and mobile-friendly interface motivates people to complete the registration process
  • residents are willing to provide information online if they can see the value
  • the online registration should support advisors but not be a diagnostic tool
  • barriers to online registration should be kept low to encourage people to use the service
  • softer questions around describing yourself makes residents feel the service cares about them

Working our way through the design process, we reframed the original brief of a localised jobs board to prototype and test the idea of a service that recognises residents at all points of their employment search. By carrying out user research with clients and advisors to build on discovery findings we quickly designed and developed Hackney Works, a digital service that supports residents to access different pathways into employment. The service went live in March 2018.

Hackney hackneyworks

The initial version of the service clearly articulated the services offer and created a simple, positive onboarding process that helped collect just the right amount of information upfront. Tools shared by residents and advisors allowed for information to be captured transparently, using natural language. Features were added to create action plans, notify residents of progress and celebrate the successful steps they were taking to improve their prospects.

The service helped place 50 additional people into training and employment opportunities in its first year.

Expanding the live service

Having supported the initial development of Hackney Works, we were asked back in 2020 to help expand the service and explore how the digital service could be integrated with it’s Adult Learning service. Hackney also had an ambition to work more closely with partners across the borough to create a place-based platform that could bring together a range of opportunities together in one simple tool.

Our multidisciplinary team worked closely with staff across these services, bringing our learning from earlier project phases and from related projects, such as Camden Council’s Good Work Camden, to rapidly iterate, improve and expand the Hackney digital service.

Hackney Opportunities

Hackney Works has now been replaced by Hackney Opportunities which is an accessible platform for the council and local partners to connect residents to inclusive, high-quality learning & employment opportunities - either through personalised support or easy routes for self-serve - so that they can improve their skills and prospects.

The work has included:

  • updating the technical architecture to separate content and opportunity publishing from the case management tool. Connecting the two using APIs and providing a more flexible way for teams to publish and update their content
  • delivering new ways to manage and publish learning experiences and courses alongside other opportunities. Making information easier to find and access for residents
  • designing and testing new content that allows people to get support and tailored opportunities relevant to specific life events or challenges faced by the Hackney community (i.e School leavers, redundancies or furlough)
  • opening up direct access to local partners to create and list opportunities on the platform, giving the staff at hackney the means to manage access and improve the quality of submissions
Hackney hackneyopportunities

My advisor was really good and offered advice on the route I should take. I’ve discovered something new that I’m good at, and enjoy.

Hackney Resident



local partners using the platform


opportunities for residents


applications from residents

In the first couple of months since launching the Opportunities platform, Hackney has onboarded 15 local partners to use the platform and between them have listed 114 opportunities for residents. Over 500 applications have been received from residents and over 2000 unique hackney visitors have visited the service online. The team at Hackney continue to collect feedback on the service and use the tools we’ve provided to constantly iterate and improve the experience for residents.

I think it’s very helpful—good that it has learning and workshops as well as a job search. A more integrated proposition. Sometimes when you’re looking for jobs you get disappointed, so it’s easy to forget that you might need to refresh your knowledge or skills.

Hackney Resident

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Similar work

Good Work Camden workshop
Camden Council Good Work Camden