Social innovations such as Sticking Together Project possess characteristics that challenge established system models, including co-design with young people and testing of new outcome measurements.
The alternative service model has been designed to break the cycle of unemployment, target and scale in geographic areas of disadvantage, and for commercial sustainability.
The team worked with disadvantaged jobseekers at every design stage to build an engaging service driven by their needs.
20 young people, many living with anxiety and depression, were engaged in the prototyping of the service. Josh, aged 23, comments on the designed coaching resources: “The tools helped me a lot because I understand them. They give an understanding of planning and teamwork – stuff I never had before.” The tools also helped Tamara, aged 23; “I now feel bright about the future. The tools have helped to lessen my feelings of depression and lack of self worth.”
Young people involved in the prototyping phase have become ambassadors, attending launch events and creating videos to share their experienc
The coach role is pivotal to service effectiveness – building strong rapport with young people to understand their work-readiness and life situation. The coach offers tailored support and mediation for both the young person and their employer, to achieve the mutual aim of sustained employment.
The coach role was developed in conjunction with SYC’s most effective staff and a group of 20 disadvantaged young people. Working together we prototyped the main interactions undertaken by the coach.
A rigorous recruitment process was also designed for the coach role including real life coaching sessions with archetype young people involved in the prototyping.
A set of six coaching tools were designed and tested with young people to influence soft skill development and job readiness:
1. Home, Health & Relationships – establishes connection between the young person and coach. Determines key barriers and maps current situation
2. Doing OK – enables reflection on feelings of anxiety and/or depression
3. Where You At – supports thinking towards mental readiness for employment
4. Wellbeing Web – explores and encourages resolving deficits in wellbeing
5. Skill Tachometer – guides self reflection and development of employability skills
6. Roots and Fruits – supports goal setting and attainment in all aspects of life, to contribute positively to employment outcomes
The ultimate goal is to empower employers with the skills to continue a coaching relationship with their young employees once the service ends.
Two tools assist skill transfer:
1. Nitty Gritty Checklist – an interview and observation guide for the coaches when they interact with employers, covering culture, unwritten norms and soft skill expectations. It aims to surface the non-technical elements of the job that the young person must develop to be successful and help employers make the implicit, explicit
2. Skill Tachometer – gathers the employer’s point of view on the young person’s skill development/progress and supports feedback between the young person and employer
Following a rapid but rigorous development period of three months of ethnographic research, three months of prototyping and three months of trials, the program is now running in four sites in two states and undergoing a comparative trial for effectiveness by Queensland University of Technology.
The team has also developed a comprehensive outcomes tracking system that enables coaches and young people to track their progress, as well as for the project team to identify areas for improvement in the design.
This weekly tracking process and clinical supervision model ensures each action solution devised for an individual young person to be continually modified based on actual feedback from the individual.
The Sticking Together service model aims to challenge current employment service practices and youth unemployment conversations. SYC will use pilot data to advocate for employment services transformation and gain support from employers, investors, the local community and governments.
The service has been designed to extend support to more disadvantaged young people through:
– A deliberate model suitable for replicating, scaling and providing social impact investment return
– Targeting and tailoring the service to respond to regions experiencing high long-term unemployment
The pilots have already attracted federal funding, evidencing greater support and interest in the project.