Combating youth unemployment with Whitelion

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Combating youth unemployment with Whitelion

Whitelion is committed to delivering innovative and life-changing programs for at-risk young people who are disengaged from the community and marginalised from opportunities. Working with Nous provides us with evidence for action, enabling us to realise this ambition.
Stephanie McCloskey Y4Y Youth Force Coordinator

Whitelion is a youth charity that opens doors to opportunities, positive relationships and community connections for disadvantaged young people across Australia.

We co-designed an innovative employment program for disadvantaged young people

Nous has worked closely with Whitelion over the last two years to develop an innovative program called Y4Y Youth Force (Y4Y) to combat youth unemployment. Y4Y supports disadvantaged young people with high barriers to employment to build confidence and capability by leveraging opportunities available via the gig economy.

The program was co-created with young people

We developed and refined the Y4Y program alongside at-risk young people, drawing on their insights and life experiences to build a program that speaks to them rather than at them. This was supported by extensive market research and analysis of the youth labour market in Australia to build a business case for the program.

The result was a service design that diverges considerably from traditional employment programs. Y4Y is geared towards short-term tasks rather than long-term work. These tasks are the first micro steps on the employment journey and are enabled by a group work environment led by young people rather than a caseworker or a teacher.

The pilot program lifted confidence and capability

As part of Nous' Community Partnership Scheme 2016 Round, we trialled the Y4Y program in a 10-week pilot with 10 young people based at Whitelion’s offices in West Melbourne. The participants gained invaluable confidence, resilience and experience. Several participants have subsequently transitioned to traditional employment or study while others continue to complete tasks via online platforms to supplement their income and develop useful skills to support their future.

Whitelion is currently preparing to conduct eight more pilot programs over the next two years to further develop the program and build momentum for Y4Y.

What other organisations can learn from Whitelion:

  • Engaging young, disadvantaged jobseekers on their terms drives positive outcomes.
  • A supportive, structured group working environment is a catalyst for individual development and action.
  • Employment programs should be developed with the future of work in mind.


Tags: co-design, community partnership scheme, employment, human services, Whitelion, youth

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