Responding to the emerging need to modernise European IAG and VET provision, the Good E-Guidance Stories (GEGS) project builds on the highly successful Guide series, aiming to empower local career guidance practitioners.
Among the many innovations being introduced in GeGS, one of the most exciting aspects is the piloting of a digital career advisor based on artificial intelligence technology. Developed by Italian project partner Jobiri, the platform will be tailored to the needs of the regional ministries and practitioners participating in the project.
German partner Metropolisnet EEIG sat down with Jobiri cofounder and CEO Claudio Sponchioni to ask a few question about digitizing career guidance.
MetropolisNet: Why is a digital leap needed in Europe’s career guidance sector?
Claudio Sponchioni: The current pandemic situation has certainly accelerated the digitalization of career guidance services, even if there are still few institutions that have truly embraced the change. The hybridization of the guidance model (mixing physical and digital career support) is showing tremendous advantages in terms of efficiency, capillarity, and effectiveness of the service. Innovation is requested directly by the beneficiaries of the service: students, candidates and unemployed.
For example, let us consider when the offices of thousands of guidance centers had been closed for months due to the pandemic, or how they had to operate at reduced service: too many candidates were and are left on their own, without support. This scenario is no longer sustainable. The pandemic has shown us how important relationships between beneficiaries and career guidance practitioners are and how, in the same way, things can be done in a faster, more personalized, efficient, and effective way thanks to digital tools.
COVID has negatively impacted lots of industries and has not only worsened the situation of many young people and the unemployed, but it has generated a larger volume of people who now need career guidance support. The solution to newer and more pervasive problems cannot be faced with the tools and approaches of the past. To really scale and provide universal career services to anyone, a new digital approach is needed by the European career guidance sector to face new challenges.
MetNet: How do you view the future of career guidance?
Sponchioni: Increasingly, forward-looking institutions in the career support sector have decided to invest in innovation and have been able to quickly rebuild or recover the relationship with their beneficiaries while supporting them more effectively. The real challenge is to evolve the traditional guidance model, based on low technological commitment (which has always struggled to be universal and effective), towards a new model in which technology and humans can adequately and effectively meet: the e-guidance.
The new paradigm of e-guidance can be more successful in terms of the capillarity of the service (which goes beyond physical spaces and opening hours of the traditional model), the personalization of the service (offering different services based on the needs of the candidates) and the effectiveness of the investment. This effectiveness relates to the resources invested in technological tools and the related acceleration of supporting more candidates to be hired. This allows large savings on passive policies, and generating “resources” that can be invested to train career guidance practitioners, to help to raise the quality level of the service and also to hire new staff.
The diffusion of digital tools itself facilitates access: the more the technology is widespread, the cheaper and more available it is to everyone. As with the adoption of the light bulb, heating, or access to education or drinking water, in the same way, the more digital career services spreads, the more they can be perceived as rights and as such made as universal as possible.
MetNet: How will job seekers benefit from integrating AI technology in career guidance?
Sponchioni: Job seekers need a system which reflects how they use online technologies today. This means a system that is completely candidate centric, which does not waste their time and is easy to use. Integrating AI technology in career guidance offers them better choices: in their job plan; in what they do to find work (self-service versus more assisted); in the offered job opportunities; and in courses that allow rapid reskilling.
Job seekers will be supported by a dedicated, real-life career guidance practitioner reachable in the office and online. This process will be boosted by a very powerful online tool available 24 hours a day. The tool will be able to provide customized job postings, including recommendations for both linear path or career changes based on the qualification and skills, feedbacks and suggestions on how to optimize their CVs, provide data on the job market (required skills, salary, etc.) and job offers. Furthermore, job seekers can count on advanced career tools that allow them to intelligently build their CVs, their motivation letters, train for interviews and access hundreds of video lessons on how to tackle the job search effectively.
MetNet: How will guidance practitioners benefit from this technology?
Sponchioni: Caseloads of career guidance practitioners are very high and growing. Adopting smart technologies will free up time to be invested in job seekers who need the greatest support: marginalized job seekers who have fewer opportunities; and women who are trying to break through complex barriers in their lives.
Guidance practitioners will also be freed up to invest time in developing more meaningful relationships with jobseekers and employers. They will be freed up to focus on value rather than volume.
AI’s larger impact is in complementing and augmenting human capabilities of guidance practitioners. Smart technologies can provide richer and up-to-date market intelligence information, sorted by professional roles to better aid job seekers in identifying the best source of work in terms of location, company, current job requirements (ie: skills, etc.) or benefits (ie: salary, contracts).
Moreover, collecting, categorizing, filling and re-elaborating information (on vacancies, training opportunities, etc.) from multiple sources is a relatively simple task for a machine (well instructed) and this allows career guidance practitioners to focus on added-value support (mentoring, motivating, advising).
MetNet: How does Jobiri’s digital career consultant work?
Sponchioni: JOBIRI is the 1° AI-based digital career advisor able to digitalize employment services.
It is an integrated and smart ecosystem of career service tools that connect jobseekers, career guidance practitioners and companies. The platform has 3 interfaces: 1. The jobseekers’ interface: a smart AI Assistant which provides feedbacks on candidates’ CVs, offers customized job postings, up-to-date job market intelligence information, CV and cover letter builders tailored to roles and industries. 2. A self-service interview simulator, and 3. an employability skill building library with more than 140 videos and an integrated video conferencing tool, to connect the jobseeker with a career coach.
At the same time, Jobiri allows career guidance practitioners to: remotely assist jobseekers with video conference tools. This allows remote career coaching sessions, while respecting social distancing, providing a more personalized and prompter support based on data.
On the employers’ side, JOBIRI provides employer branding tools to attract candidates (it showcases companies’ workspaces, vision, benefits by creating a virtual tour of the company and allowing current employees to become company ambassadors), supports recruiters to identify the best candidates, and manages the sourcing process faster.
MetNet: What excites you about taking part in the GeGS project?
Sponchioni: Being able to participate in a European project which involve important institutions such as Metropolisnet, Employment Ministries in 3 countries, various European vocational schools networks such as CIOFS-FP and consulting companies specializing in career guidance and employment is a wonderful moment of growth. In fact, it makes it possible to measure ourselves in international contexts, with institutional partners of the highest level willing to truly innovate to solve complex problems, together.
It is an amazing opportunity to work in a collaborative and open environment where all the partners involved are eager to find effective answers on how to better support young people and the unemployed in today’s context. Taking part in the GeGS project is simply an incredible experience for Jobiri and all its team members.