Labor agencies need ‘Tinder for jobs’, says former state official


Written by Benjamin Freed

As states seek to rebuild their economies after the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, workforce development agencies should strive to create digital services with the same ease of use and the same familiarity than a streaming service or dating app, cloud speakers said on Tuesday. -computer event.

Speaking in a session at an Amazon Web Services conference in Washington DC, Scott Jensen, the former director of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, said the onus is on the government to help workers displaced by the pandemic to restart their careers – and help employers find the right talent.

“We have no choice,” Jensen said. “If we don’t find talent for these employers, we just won’t be competitive in the world.

Jensen, who now heads the nonprofit Research Improving People’s Lives, which promotes the use of data science and technology in social policy, said he was now focusing on helping states to develop digital platforms where people can apply for unemployment benefits, find other assistance programs and search for retraining and new employment opportunities without having to repeatedly re-enter their information. Much of that work, he said, depends on getting different government agencies to share their data more freely with each other.

“We are helping states use the data they have to help people find jobs,” he said. “We built something like a Netflix to help people find jobs. Or, in a healthy way, Tinder for Jobs.

RIPL is currently working with the office of Hawaii Governor David Ige on such a platform, said Jensen, who in his final months with Rhode Island began to develop a new unemployment insurance platform. loosely modeled on Domino’s pizza tracker.

The need for interoperability between unemployment, retraining and placement services is also critical due to a widening skills gap as more employers need workers with IT skills in the workplace. cloud and other advanced computing skills, said Kim Majerus, AWS vice president. sector for state, local and education markets.

“When I think of all the data that states have on their communities, I think of the technology divide they experience as employers themselves,” she said.

Kevin Gallagher, senior advisor to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo (former Governor of Rhode Island), said during the session that workforce development agencies were able to help small businesses to fill those holes.

“These small businesses don’t have HR,” he said. “[Government] can bridge the gap between very small employers and the programs that bring them their next workers.

Gallagher also referred to a $ 3 billion workforce development grant program that the Commerce Department launched in July.

But getting data on workers and jobs to move between entities remains the biggest challenge, speakers agreed on Tuesday. Sheneui Weber, vice chancellor of manpower and economic development for the California community college system – who recently partnered with AWS to develop cloud computing programs – said the data sharing was his “holy grail”.

Gallagher said it’s up to state leaders to make this data sharing smoother.

“There are people who are terrified of letting this data free to work in state agencies,” Gallagher said. “They must prioritize innovation over compliance. But if you can really help people with this data and do it in a safe and responsible manner, there is a lot of work to be done.

Jensen put it more bluntly: “Free the data. It’s a thing.

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