Nous and Whitelion win Design Award for Y4Y programme

08 October 2020 4 min. read

Nous Group worked in collaboration with youth charity Whitelion to help dozens of young Australians find short-term employment. The programme – Y4Y – has now been lauded for its design at the prestigious Good Design Awards. 

Y4Y was conceptualised to support disadvantaged youth in Australia, adding a few tweaks on conventional support programmes that have been limited in their impact.

The Y4Y programme

For one, Nous Group and non-profit Whitelion allowed at-risk youth to shape the purpose of the programme. In-depth research and analysis of youth unemployment in Australia was topped off by conversations with participants themselves – putting their needs and experiences at the centre of the programme.

Drawing on these insights, Y4Y was designed around the gig economy, complete with a digital platform that enabled participants to access short-term gigs – lawnmowing, for instance. “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,” explained a Nous Group statement.

Participants reported progress against all goals, with greater uplift for some

Participants were given an allowance, a workspace, a laptop and tools for their work, with easy access to on-hand support staff. A team of nearly 15 professionals from Nous Group and Whitelion were involved in the project design – a process that was partially funded by the Try, Test and Learn Fund from the Australian Government’s Department of Social Services.

Nous Group – a global management consultancy – contributed its expertise in the design, digital and project management spheres. Whitelion brought to the table two-decades of experience with mentor-led rehabilitation programmes for Australian youth leaving the justice system. Set up as a charity, Whitelion advocates the value of positive relationships and community connections in building an inclusive society.

Together, they built an effective programme, and the results have been promising.

Reaping the rewards

Kirsty Elderton – a Nous Group Principal and one of the leaders of the firm’s Y4Y design team – said that their “human-centred” design had been piloted nine times with 80 people. Three-fourths of these participants have achieved an education or employment outcome, while 80% achieved other goals associated with the programme – information, skill development, behavioural changes, work readiness and decision-making.

The success story has now been put in the spotlight by the Good Design Awards – one of the oldest and most prestigious global design awards that has been recognising superior design from around the world annually since the 1950s.

“Australia’s Good Design Award is more than a symbol of design excellence – it represents the hard work and dedication towards an innovative outcome that will ultimately make our lives better. These projects showcase the sheer brilliance of design and the potential it has to improve our world,” explained Brandon Gien, CEO of Good Design Australia.

Outcomes were greatest for people with lower barriers to employmentWhitelion has always been at the forefront of social change, while Nous Group has not shied away from standing up for a more inclusive society. “We believe valuable insights may come from Y4Y Youth Force, an employment program that gives participants skills, confidence, experience and employability,” said Zac Ashkanasy, also a Nous Group Principal who led the design efforts alongside Elderton.

For Ashkanasy, now is a more urgent time than ever to ensure the youth in Australia have a secure future. “Youth unemployment looms as a major concern as Australia grapples with Covid-19,” he said, pointing at the dire economic circumstances that have come about since the start of this year.