One of the best things about using story as a design system is that we often discover that our clients have needs they weren’t even aware of. This is particularly true when we have responded to an RFP because, well, RFP (see older blogs about the tyranny of RFPs!). This really turned out to be true for the Alabama workforce system, now known as AlabamaWorks (yeah, that was us!). While we were doing our Culture Mapping process, which is really a story harvesting exercise in attentive listening, we discovered the need to re-imagine the Alabama Career SUCCESS Toolkit which helps K12 students explore their career options. As a former public school teacher, this really revved up my passion for helping kids grow into adults who feel valued and act as responsible citizens. Psyched!
The Toolkit is made up of sixteen individual guides each based on one of the sixteen “Career Clusters” designated by the U.S. Department of Labor. Essentially, all jobs fall into one of these clusters. (Go ahead, try to think of that ONE job that can’t be defined… OK. I agree, now back to the story). Each cluster has one or more Career Pathways…a series of structured courses and other educational experiences that allow a student to learn job skills along with their usual high school core classes. In Alabama, a student who graduates from high school can then go directly into the workforce, and/or be gainfully employed while they attend college. Not a bad idea in the age of crushing student debt.
It gets even better. Each guide offers ten pages of information about a single Career Cluster to help them test their level of interest, discover what the “Hot Jobs” will be in Alabama when they graduate, and learn a little bit of the real deal from people in Alabama who currently work in those jobs. These personal stories really grab the students’ attention – the hopes, dreams, and challenges of people just like them who graduated from an Alabama high school and are now living well. Each eighth grader has a Career Coach and School Counselor that introduces the guides and helps them create their Alabama Education Plan which charts their way through high school course selection, co-curricular offerings like Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and National FFA that further their workforce skills, and outline the steps they need to take to enter the workforce and/or attend a two- or four-year college or university.
We are just starting to put together the first prototype of the print guides now, and once that’s done, our team will begin designing the even more robust online interactive version that will allow a student to explore up to three guides at a time, and take a deep dive into the information that will help them find their passion, make a plan, and live their dream. Now, if I could ONLY go back to high school in Alabama!