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U-District Job Co-op: constructing a future vision for homeless young people and employment

Abstract

Purpose – Addressing the question, how might socio-technical systems help homeless young people to succeed broadly in employment, the purpose of this paper is to present a future vision, the U-District Job Co-op, where youth take on “mini-jobs” offered by neighborhood stakeholders. Design/methodology/approach – Drawing on value sensitive design, design-based, and qualitative research methods, the Job Co-op is explicated by reporting on three linked studies. Findings – First, based on empirical research with varied neighborhood stakeholders, barriers and possible solutions to employment for homeless young people are presented. Second, three design insights for shaping a solution space of socio-technical systems for job search are presented and used analytically to examine six existing systems. Third, findings from a co-design study in which homeless young people expressed their understandings for web-based job services explicate the vision of the Job Co-op. Social implications – This study offers a socio-technical approach, grounded in the neighborhood context, for supporting homeless young people in job search and related activities. Originality/value – The studies reported in this paper demonstrate how methods for information system design can be used to generate and clarify opportunities for human benefit and for the development of socio-technical systems that account for human values