Department of Education Victoria

Transforming Career Education

We worked with the Department of Education to design a ‘student centred’ communication narrative to better connect Year 9 students to new career education initiatives in schools.

Department of Education, Victoria
Communication Narrative
Key campaign messaging
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

The Situation

Are current career education efforts in schools failing our students?

Could improvements be made to the way we deliver career education in our schools?

Is career education even happening at all schools?

Big, important questions. So much so that it sparked a Victorian parliamentary inquiry into the current state of career education in our schools. The findings are can be read here – in short the evidence concluded that career development in Victorian schools is not meeting the needs of our students. If this situation is left unattended, we could be facing a serious problem.

In response to the inquiry, The Department of Education and Training Victoria have developed a new suite of initiatives for schools, focused on giving our young students better access to high quality career education – earlier in their career journey. With the aim:

  • To give students the skills and capabilities to navigate multiple careers and to meet the challenges of the changing world of work.
  • To ensure students are engaged in their learning and planning for life beyond school.
  • To improve the quality and understanding of pathways and support students to make better career decisions.

The Mission

To transform career education in schools. Starting with Year 9 students.

Transforming career education in Victorian secondary schools is no small task.

Alto were engaged to assist in the design of a communications narrative to connect the career education initiative to Year 9 students.

This was a key piece of work that would assist the Department of Education in developing their overarching communications strategy for the careers education initiative.

The product

As of 2019, Year 9 students in public schools will all have access to a unique product and program designed specifically for career and self exploration. A combination of online tools and conversations with career practitioners.

The market

It has been said that Year 9 students are at risk of being lost in the school system. The system tends to focus on those new to high school (Year 7), and then on students approaching their end studies (Year 12). To us, this was a prime reason to focus on engaging Year 9’s. It’s an opportunity to take them from being potentially lost in the middle of their high school journey – to finding their place in the world.

Our Task

To inspire Year 9 students into actioning their own career discovery journey.

A human-centred design approach

1. Knowing the audience and situation

Our first step was gathering information. A mix of desktop research and conversations with students in order to discover their attitudes, influences and perceptions towards future careers. What do they want from life and work? How will they decide which careers are right for them?

2. Designing messaging prototypes

Time to ‘connect the dots’ gathered from our research and explore value propositions, messaging themes and possible narratives.

3. Testing prototypes and refinement

Testing and feedback sessions with students, their parents, teachers and career advisors were conducted at a number schools. Critical feedback was gathered and the narratives went through further iterations of refinement.

Two female Victorian students in a classroom setting
Services provided to the Department of Education:
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Market research
  • Empathy mapping and personas
  • Value proposition discovery
  • Prototyping possible solutions
  • Market testing
A diagram describing the Human Centred Design process Alto used on the job with the Department of Education and Training Victoria.

So, how should we talk to Year 9 students about career planning?

A visual graphic of research insights provided to the Department of Education and Training Victoria.
Market testing insights

Our market research and conversations uncovered that our young teenagers are at varying stages on the ‘personal career discovery journey’ spectrum.

Unlike traditional marketing approaches we couldn’t afford to focus on just the majority segment. We need to focus on all segments – to ensure no one is left behind.

It was vital to the Deparment of Education that the messaging and narratives are designed to resonate with each student at the various stages along their personal career discovery journey.

For this reason, three messaging themes had to be explored, prototyped, tested and fine-tuned with the target audience.

Key Project Outcomes


A name for the overarching careers education initiative in Victorian secondary schools. Tried and tested with the key stakeholders – the students themselves.


A report detailing the key audiences attitudes, behaviours, awareness, perceptions and barriers towards career education.


A suite of strategic messaging narratives to be used by the Department of Education in various communication pieces to key audience types.