We look at some of the exciting digital innovations to emerge from a major government-backed Tech for Good competition
A raft of interesting digital products and tools are under development to help charities combat unemployment and poverty, according to the latest list of winners from the CareerTech Challenge Prize.
An artificial-intelligence-powered job coach called Bob is among the innovative solutions to be recognised by the award scheme and receive support and funding. The initiative also recognised innovations to tackle in-work poverty, challenge digital exclusion in the workplace among older workers, and use mobile games to help people find work.
These are set to offer vital new tools for charities as they look to help some of the most disadvantaged people in the UK. We look at a couple of examples in detail.
The top CareerTech Challenge Prize has been handed to AI-powered job coach called Bob, a data driven online service to support unemployed people and help them find work.
Bob works by analysing information about people’s job search preferences and the barriers they face. It then provides tailored support offering practical and motivational advice.
Its developers are optimistic it will be a success in the UK after already being rolled out in France, where it has helped 250,000 people. Evaluation of users in France show that 80% of people rate Bob’s advice as equal or better than careers guidance from a human advisor. In addition, four out of ten said Bob was a key factor in securing work.
“We’re hugely excited by Bob’s potential to get highly relevant employment support to adults across England,” said Tris Dyson, managing director of Nesta’s Nesta Challenges arm. “This pioneering platform is bringing tailored, engaging career support tools to the people that need it most, ensuring that nobody misses out.”
The project has been handed £120,000 as the winner of the top prize.
In-work poverty has been an increasing worry among charities, where low salaries and zero-hour contracts are forcing families in live below the poverty line.
Among the finalists in the CareerTech Challenge is Stay Nimble, a social enterprise that has developed an app that looks to help equip those in work to “escape in-work poverty” and “be prepared” for tech innovations in the work-place, according to Nesta.
This data-driven tool helps people to better understand their skills and aspirations through a series of online assessments. This helps beneficiaries to build up their “skills library” through learning new skills. It is also linked in with live vacancies and involves the chance to book video calls and messaging through an in-app chat with a skills coach.
Dutch-based tech start up SkillLab has linked up with Heart of the South West Digital Skills Partnership, a voluntary and public sector-led local enterprise partnership in Devon, to create a mobile app to help mature workers at risk of redundancy through automation.
Through the app, mature workers at risk are supported to ensure they have access to training and support in the increasingly digitised world of work.
It works by using SkillLab’s AI technology to analyse people’s experiences across a lifetime and maps them across recognised qualifications and training. The AI technology has already been used by SkillLab to help migrants find work, many of whom have unrecognised qualifications in the UK and gaps in the employment history.
“Their platform, through a mobile app, quizzes people on their life experiences to date – the more questions you answer the more accurate the AI engine. It then maps those experiences to skills that match occupations,” says the partnership. “The mobile app can also show you which skills you are missing if you’re aiming for a particular job.”
Digital Skills Bursts is another Tech For Good innovation to be named among the CareerTech Challenge finalists. Developed by Wales-based tech firm miFuture, #Skillbursts looks to gamify the job hunting and training process to appeal to generation Z as they emerge from education and look for work.
It works by taking users through a series of fun skill based tasks and puzzles, to match young people with career opportunities.
For too long school leavers not going to uni have been locked out of career pathway, the perception that degrees are the way to attain quality jobs is changing— miFuture Foundation (@miFuture_Found) April 1, 2021
We are making sure it changes faster by nudging young people on future- focussed trajectories#SkillBursts are coming pic.twitter.com/jtXJQXKD8e
There is clearly a pressing need to help this generation in employment. It is estimated that nearly 800,000 young people in the UK were NEET (not in education, employment and training) between October and December 2020.