Volume 32, No. 5: Conference Session Highlights

How XPRIZE Is Driving Technologies to Uplift the Global Workforce

Monica Groves, Program Director, XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling

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The world of work is rapidly changing. The pandemic, emerging technology, automation, and artificial intelligence, among a myriad of other factors, are underscoring the urgent need to rapidly reskill our workforce to keep up with new ways of working. The finalist teams of XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling are reimagining the future of work and skills training so that all workers can rapidly, easily, and cost-effectively attain new skills that allow them to unlock their potential and ensure longevity in their chosen careers.

Representatives of XPRIZE and finalist teams recently attended NCPN CONNECT 2022, the annual conference of the National Career Pathways Network, to discuss best practices in fast-paced skills training. In this article, we’ll surface some of the highlights from the panel conversation focusing on the responses from the two XPRIZE finalists, Team VITAL and Team Isotonik.

Soft skills are critical for an employer’s hiring decision.

One of the challenges discussed by the panel was how traditional educational systems do not keep pace with the need to rapidly reskill the global workforce.

“Programs at traditional educational institutions are more focused on imparting knowledge and a foundation to help learners succeed through more expensive undergraduate or graduate school programs. Such programs are based on developing curiosity, research, and innovation through established college labs and ecosystems with an onus on the learner to search for employment based on their interest towards the end of the program. Programs are quite inflexible and often follow a credits system and take longer time to complete,” said Yashwant Kumar of VITAL.

In contrast, fast-paced reskilling training programs like VITAL’s aim to provide individuals with critical job skills for employment. These programs are flexible, short in duration, with certifications or badges to signify completion, and inexpensive. And finally, they typically work closely with employers to help facilitate jobs at the end of the program.”

In addition to these factors, acquiring and practicing soft skills are also key to a successful reskilling program. According to Yashwant, “Our state-of-the-art AI-driven learning technology enables talent to learn rapidly using their natural ability to learn by doing, exploring, failing, self-correcting, rehearsing, and mastery, which are critical skills they will be prepared to apply on the job. Through our award-winning platform, Refactored.ai, participants are equipped with on-the-job skills, critical human skills and taught by highly qualified professionals with over 30 years of experience in the targeted industries.”

New Skills for New Kinds of Work

McKinsey Global Institute estimates that 14 percent of the global workforce would have to switch occupations or acquire new skills by 2030 because of automation and AI. This rapidly changing technology is driving the need for employees to learn new skills and adapt to new kinds of work.

“The bulk of the skills gap is the result of an educational system that hasn’t kept pace with the evolving economy. This gap has continued to steadily widen, hurting prospective workers, businesses, and the economy. Our solution is to be able to impact the skill gap from this training and education perspective,” said Komal Kaul of Team Isotonik.

“Soft skills can help one communicate effectively, demonstrate professionalism and develop business relationships,” she said.

Isotonik is an AI-enabled rapid reskilling platform that helps assess, train, and place displaced workers in growth industries. It is a single-solution platform that connects displaced employees and those wanting to up-skill and/or re-skill with a customized learning lifecycle, linking them to potential jobs and connecting them with prospective employers in the occupation of choice or occupations for which they may be pre-qualified. The solution can also give immersive 3D avatar-based and hands-on skills training through virtual reality and/or augmented reality (VR/AR) for specialized occupational roles that have a need for them.

“As a part of our recruitment and onboarding, we have designed a comprehensive qualitative and psychometric assessment. This assessment helps learners find the right program for them based on their current skills and abilities. Our training includes asynchronous modules for soft skill training and webinars and workshops led by experts. Helping learners identify career pathways and then subsequent mentoring allows them to engage in educational opportunities better and increases their career and financial mobility.”

Novel solutions and technologies developed as a result of XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling aim to uplift the global labor market and close the widening skills gap. XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling, sponsored by New Profit, Inc., is set to conclude in January 2023.

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