Stories of vulnerable

young people

1 month design research-project exploring the barriers surrounding vulnerable young people and their way towards job and education.

Client: Municipality of Copenhagen, Finance Administration, 2017

What I did: Design games, association exercises, data analysis, project management and visual communication.

// Design anthropology

// Design Research

“They can’t see the chaos, that are inside of us...”


50.000 young people between age 15-24 without a job or an education

In 2015 approximately 50.000 young Danish people between the age of 15-24 was without a job or a youth education. A number that hasn’t changed in over ten years and which represent 6-7% of the total age group. Me and my team was given the task of identifying main problems around this development with a specific focus on municipality efforts.


A nuanced foundation for decision making within the municipality of Copenhagen

Along with quantitative studies, the findings created a foundation for more nuanced decision making within the government of Copenhagen.

The aim of the design research was getting the young participants to verbally express the main issues and barriers keeping them from getting a job or an education and ultimately achieving their dreams.

A main insight was that the young, despite being believed in by the municipality, didn’t experience their process within the system as linear and straight but as dynamic. This group of young people were in a social situation that regularly forced them to step back in their pursuit of future dreams.

Several of the young people talked about interrupted progress and incoherent transitions as a main factor for demotivation. They wished for a more stable contact with the municipality, where the door is always open, no matter where they are in their progress.

The way the municipality thinks the youths development looks

The young people’s experience of their development


Design anthropology to spark dialogue with the users

We reached out to 40 young people - all of them assigned to a private or municipal offer for vulnerable young people.

We used design anthropology methods and met the youth within familiar surroundings such as youth clubs. We interviewed them through tailored design games and association exercises. The aim was to open up a dialogue and enable visualizations of their challenges, dreams and potential.

“More than just a number”

Impersonal case management

“The right match”

Requirement vs. condition

“Leave the door open”

Interrupted progress

Visual synthesizing of the youth's stories points out the barriers

The user studies and a visual synthesizing of the research data, revealed multiple barriers keeping the young respondents from reaching their goals.

I was in charge of process facilitation, creating design games and association exercises, along with facilitating the meetings with the young respondents. The team and I synthesized the data, uncovered key insights and areas of opportunity. Eventually I prepared the graphic material and illustrations for the final presentation.


Sarah Brandt Zak

Benedikte Lindqvist

Fridda Flensted-Jensen

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