Prototyping with young people in Lake Cargelligo

Previously we shared that we are working alongside communities in Western NSW to build capability in social innovation through the Regional Innovators Network (RIN). The aim of this network is to become a connection point and a resource for place-based and community-led social innovation. Currently we are working with teams in Lachlan Shire and Dubbo.

In Lachlan Shire there is a team of people working on ways to address the entrenched local social challenges. The initiative is called Growing Lachlan (GL), and it is coordinated and facilitated by the Community Connectors, Shane Phillips based in Lake Cargelligo and Annette Ohlsen based in Condobolin.

GL work started having conversations with community that resulted in the following five priorities:

  1. Cultural recognition, respect and participation
  2. Community renewal
  3. Economic development
  4. Community Safety
  5. Caring for younger and older generations

In this last priority, the issue of young people and meaningful employment was identified as a starting point and the GL team identified an opportunity to work with young people at Lake Cargelligo Central School on it.

The School Based Apprenticeships and Training (SBAT) program was already running as one subject in the school, but there wasn’t a clear understanding around what it was set-up to achieve. The GL team together with the careers teacher saw this as an opportunity to explore the challenge that the community had been grappling with for a long-time: how to connect young people with meaningful employment in the community.

As a starting point, the team held conversations with young people to gather information on what were their aspirations after school, to learn about their experiences on looking for employment in their hometown and what they envisioned they could work on a subject like SBAT to support them in their transition to their first working experience.

Another key stakeholder in this challenge are the employers. The team met with them to explore: what are employer’s needs? what is the value that they are expecting to receive from SBAT? what are their worries? what barriers do they have to engage with SBAT and potential employees?

After an initial understanding of the current context and experiences, the team started working in the school on a weekly basis using the SBAT subject time. They have worked alongside these group of young people to develop opportunities and ideas that could be tested to build the bridge between school and employment.

These are some of the ideas that young people have been framing and testing in the last year:

  • CVs based on stories: young people shared that it is difficult to build a cv when you haven’t had any employment experience. With this challenge in mind, they ideated a new form to introduce themselves to employers based on their strengths and stories. 
  • Roadshow: young people mentioned that they don’t know what are the employment opportunities available around them. With the aim of addressing this challenge they designed a tour around town to visit local businesses and understand the work they do and roles that people take in those organisations.
  • Profiling: together with the roadshow idea young people thought it would be relevant to capture the businesses information to make it accessible to everyone. They designed business profiles from a student perspective to inform future work experience or taste day experiences within local businesses.
  • Job readiness: young people reflected on how job readiness really looks like. They focused on defining and practising how to present themselves in a job interview.

In the new year the Growing Lachlan team will be back in the school to continue to design, test and grow these ideas working alongside Lake Cargelligo Central School students and their careers teacher.

The Growing Lachlan team leading the work shared the following reflections and lessons learned:

  • Spending time framing the questions that we want to explore with people is key to get a deep understanding of the challenges they are facing.
  • One hour once per week was a tough space to continue the co-design energy and pace. We reflected that next time would be better to work on an intense and defined period of time, for instance a week.
  • School attendance was a challenge at times and that impacted in the consistency in the co-design groups. As the work progressed young people created a sense of ownership with certain ideas. We learned that it is important to allow the time and space for young people to own their ideas.

About our Funder Vincent Fairfax Foundation

In 2015 Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation (VFFF) funded conversations in the Shire to identify which were the social challenges that community believed were important to tackle in their region.

Together with TACSI a commitment was made to build regional innovation capability, so that regional areas could connect innovative thinking with issues particular to each region.