Each year, Essex County Council sets a research topic to some of the best social science undergraduates at the University of Essex. The Challenge Project acts as an alternative to their individual undergraduate dissertation module in their final year. As a group, the students work together to provide the council with evidence which is academically accredited and cutting edge.
The report has been presented to Essex County Council in 2019.
The students researched best-practices for job-creation that local authorities can focus on, to support the employability of people with learning disabilities. The research identified three types of social enterprises, termed Employability Social Enterprises, which develop transferable skills and incentivise entrepreneurship, promoting independent living.
Evidence shows that Social Enterprises in Essex face capital constraints - financial and human - on the effectiveness of their activities; and the presence of Employability Social Enterprises is particularly low. The report focuses on policies that support the social economy and optimize public spending to incentivise the proliferation of Employability Social Enterprises that address the needs of people with learning disabilities. In particular, the students advocated for the solutions of innovative financial technologies, especially equity (matched) crowdfunding.