Co-designing Senior Secondary Pathways

Department of Education, Skills and Employment


Young people are entering the workforce after secondary education lacking the skills they need to thrive, and without having meaningfully explored their interests and strengths. Students face barriers when navigating pathways of work and/or further education, and need a tool to add to the ATAR to give employers and educators a fuller picture of their knowledge, skills and attributes. The Department of Education, Skills and Employment engaged YLab to test their ideas to provide this ‘fuller picture’ of a student and understand the ideas of young people.

What we did

In total YLab engaged 50 young people to ‘admire the problem’ and co-design prototypes that showcase the full range of student abilities as a supplement to the ATAR. We interviewed 15 young people from across Australia and engaged 35 young people in workshops in metro and regional NSW and Victoria. From these participants developed 19 prototypes that spanned work experience, additional teacher support, multiple learner profiles and education passports that could be used digitally.


Participants demonstrated an active empathy for the connections between education and lived experience – in particular they focused on how prototypes influenced pre-existing disadvantage in education and the job market. Young people also highlighted a range of factors – such as mental health, peer pressure, and familial expectations – that shaped their pathway decisions. The 50 participants our facilitators worked with were shown the value of their own lived experience, both as a tool to create systems change and through being paid for their time.

Two young people sit at a table in a co-design workshop. They are both looking down, focused on writing. There is a large piece of butcher's paper on the table with text reading: 'What barriers have prevented you from accessing opportunities related to education and employment?'
A room full of young people involved in a co-design workshop are sitting at desks and looking off camera, presumably listening to someone speak.

The team

We brought together a team of Associates and a Director, who came together to design with a background of diverse lived experience and expertise.

with Edward Fernandez, Bianca (Bee) Orsini, Hosna Khaliqy and Sasha Sullivan.