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Co-designed Y4Y Youth Force helps prepare young people for work

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Co-designed Y4Y Youth Force helps prepare young people for work

It is a supportive program that has given me practical experience and confidence to apply for more jobs; it is really worthwhile in that regard. ... It increases your confidence every week, engaging as a team and being a team player.
Participants Y4Y Youth Force

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 employment program and digital platform

Nous has worked with Whitelion over five years to research, design and implement Y4Y Youth Force, an innovative, award-winning employment program.

Y4Y supports young jobseekers with employment barriers to build skills, motivation and experience in order to increase their employability. Y4Y combines formal training with gig economy experiences to provide a stepping stone to employment.

The model was developed through an iterative design process

Nous worked with Whitelion to design and evaluate the program and service model. We adopted an iterative design process to understand and meet the needs of participants and improve program outcomes.

We co-designed Y4Y with 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 program design that diverges considerably from traditional employment programs. Y4Y enables young people to access short-term task-based job opportunities online. These tasks are the first micro steps on the employment journey, building participants' confidence and resumes.

The task-based work is supported by a nurturing group work environment led by young people with employment supports provided by Whitelion so participants can translate their experiences into applications for further learning or employment.

The service model was iterated over pilot programs between 2016 and 2020. This service model was initially trialled in a 10-week pilot in Melbourne with 10 young people. Following this, Whitelion received funding from the Department of Social Services to conduct pilot programs with 80 young people.

The program was supported by the Nous Community Partnership Scheme.

The model helped participants develop skills, confidence and employability

Y4Y built the employability of the young people that participated:

  • 75 per cent of participants have gone on to some form of employment or education after completing the program.
  • 80 per cent of participants reported moderate or full achievement of goals related to skill development, information, work readiness and confidence to make decisions.
  • Y4Y was highly regarded by participants, who overwhelmingly and consistently reported that the program was enjoyable and useful to build work skills, confidence and experience.
  • The program improved over time through better service design from the direct feedback and guidance of young people.

In September 2020, Y4Y was awarded a Good Design Award for Social Impact. The jury’s citation read: “Merit for an award based on the significant problem this initiative seeks to address and its potential lifelong impact in the lives of young people. Well thought out approach to mitigating youth unemployment, with a strong track record of success in early roll out.”

Good Design Award Winner

What other organisations can learn from Whitelion:

  • Employment programs should be developed with the future of work in mind.
  • Iterative program and service model design is crucial to meeting the needs of participants and finding a model that is sustainable.
  • Engaging young, disadvantaged jobseekers on their terms, from the start, drives positive outcomes.

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