On Jan. 17, members of the San Diego Workforce Partnership’s youth programs team took part in a presentation about human-centered design at the California Workforce Association’s (CWA) Youth Conference in Long Beach, Calif.
SDWP Program Specialists Sandra Bauler and Crystal Gunter joined Access, Inc. Program Manager Roshawn Brady and young adult participant Kenia Valence-Galeana (a Price Scholar studying at San Diego City College) in presenting and facilitating a session called “Helping Youth Pursue Excellence (HYPE): Moving the Needle on Human-Centered Design.”
Gunter and Lead Program Specialist Amanda Cheyney also gave this presentation at the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals (NAWDP) Youth Development Symposium in Chicago, Ill., in October.
The presentation was based on the work that went into planning a series of youth provider trainings last year on how to recruit and outreach to out-of-school youth using human-centered design principles. Since human-centered design forms a part of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which went into effect in 2015 and funds SDWP’s partner programs, there is focus on how these principles can improve program service delivery and performance outcomes.
To introduce and promote human-centered design principles, the U.S. Department of Labor had issued a challenge in 2016 to address the needs in workforce programs for youth, adult, and dislocated workers. SDWP formed a team of community partners and young adults to form the #theHYPE team — Helping Youth Pursue Excellence — and posed the question “How might we design services and programs for out-of-school youth that will engage them and produce great outcomes?” The project eventually took them to present their findings at the White House in September.
Human-centered design principles are relevant for the SDWP youth programs team and WIOA providers. There are 53,000 out-of-school young adults in San Diego County (currently not in school or working), to whom outreach is particularly challenging. The NAWDP and CWA presentation showed how human-centered design can aid in the development of program design, especially in outreach and recruitment efforts.
Human-centered design is positively changing the culture of work at SDWP and its funded partners. Technology is being used for ease and transparency; providers are given access to documents in Dropbox, and online webinars are being created for providers located farther away, in lieu of asking representatives to commute long distances for short, in-person trainings. Providers are also looking into ways to engage young people in creating spaces and program design that are more welcoming to their peers.
Attendees of the session were asked to go through the phases of human-centered design, including inspiration, ideation and implementation.
A key takeaway for the presenters is that it is important to ask for audience feedback, just as it is important to incorporate feedback from users at every stage of planning and developing a program per human-centered design principles.
“Based on reactions from audience and questions asked after, we learn it is important to plan events with the ‘why’ in mind, not only to have face time with youth or fill a quota,” says Brady. “When you put the youth first, that’s the reason your youth come back and participate, as opposed to a flashy flyer.”
Brady further elaborates, “Sometimes people will dismiss human-centered design with the thought that it is too complicated or will not help them with their deliverables, when it is just the opposite.”
Cheyney has some advice for those venturing into human-centered design: “It is important to be flexible and stay relevant and current.”
Above all, “Just be empathetic — ask the [end users] where they live or where they work. Find out what life is like for them. Do it with your heart, learn what they need. Form a human connection by listening and looking them in the eye.”
Approximately 500 youth practitioners and young adults attended the annual CWA conference, which offers attendees an opportunity to learn from and collaborate with other organizations that provide education, skill training, work experience and career counseling to young people and who are actively involved in addressing youth employment issues.