For job seekers who want to progress professionally, Skilllab is a personal career assistant to uncover professional career pathways.
Pitch us on your solution
Labour displacement by automation and migration creates job seekers that need to redefine their career and find new pathways to employment. Their professions are often rendered redundant, making it impossible to simply continue a career somewhere else. But while job titles might not be transferable in those situations, skills and experiences are.
With Skilllab’s app, job seekers identify and document their skills fast and explore professional career pathways they could pursue in a given labour market. Through the granularity of the skill assessment (13485 unique skills) it is possible to capture a job seekers experience in detail, match their skills to every occupation and show missing skills that would increase employability. Online education form third parties is directly linked to those skills, making education accessible while viewing a desired job.
Job seekers can easily find the education they need and market themselves to employers on the basis of their skills.
Film your elevator pitch
What is the problem you are solving?
Labour displacement by migration and automation imposes dramatic shifts on our workforce and society. McKinsey assumes that in conservative estimates, around 400 million individuals lose their job due to automation by 2030. At the same time, climate change, economic desperation and other causes currently force 150 million migrants (ILO) to re-orientate themselves in new labour markets. Both trends are similar in their effect: a continuously growing number of marginalized job seekers that cannot directly translate their past experience to finding a new job.
To find employment, they need to understand the skills they have, how those relate to requirements of open positions and what educational actions they can take to overcome any skill gap.
On a positive note, the explosion of high quality online education democratizes the ability to learn new skills. What we need is a tool that helps marginalized job seekers to orientate themselves on the job market and to make good educational and career choices.
Who are you serving?
The beneficiaries of our application are marginalized job seekers. This includes any person displaced by migration and automation, as well as any other individuals that need to find new pathways to employment.
Skilllab is committed to a human centered design process with Azza El Hayek (co-founder) full time dedication to this task. Through countless usability workshops (about 350 usability test in the last 2 years) we track and record all usability challenges as well understand the aspirations and wishes of our users.
All insights feed into a product roadmap and are systematically addressed by our lead designer as well our product manager. All designed solutions are extensively discussed and fine tuned with Azza and other members of the customer success team.
Our application and functionality (see sections above) is exclusively dedicated to serving marginalized job seekers.
What is your solution?
The core technology at work is a mobile application that performs highly detailed assessments to capture an individual’s employable skills, automatically generate and translate comprehensive skill profiles, and map a person’s unique skill set directly to occupations. Building on the European Skills/Competencies, Qualifications and Occupations framework (ESCO) model with 13485 unique skills and 2942 occupations, our AI based assessment engine guides the user through an interview process to capture all tasks performed and knowledge used in prior experiences.
Users can perform the skill assessment in 27 different languages while the system automatically translates all output into the language of the host country.
Based on a job seeker’s skill gap to a desired occupation, we aim to link publicly available online education content that directly addresses the skill gap. This is achieved by mapping our skill model into third party education content.
While our system architecture incorporates many micro services, the core components are connected via APIs and can be reduced to:
Mobile application for job seekers to perform skill assessment and explore pathways to employment. Build in React and soon available on Playstore, App store as well as web application.
Web interface for career counsellors to explore results of skill assessments and to invite candidates. Written in React.
Skill Assessment Engine that “interviews” users on their skills and competences. Based on multiple machine learning algorithms written in Python, the engine determines which competences are queried as well as the duration of the assessment.
Back-end and system architecture in Ruby on Rails, running on Google Cloud Platform
Select only the most relevant.
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Amsterdam, Netherlands
Our solution's stage of development:
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
Job seekers, case managers and career coaches use the resulting Skill Profiles to improve career planning, job search and vocational training.
In the vast majority of cases, existing solutions are based on unstructured interviews. While they address the right problem, key barriers prevented these models to succeed at a larger scale:
• Dependency on manual labour prevent scaling due to cost and quality control
• No human has the knowledge to perform skill assessments across all occupational backgrounds
• Language barriers prevent effective communication and require professional translators
• Dependency on grants prevent sustainable business models
The key differentiators of our solution are:
• Granularity of skill assessment (13485 skills)
• Matches to occupations and identification of skill gaps
• Recommendations on online education content based on skill gap
• Automatic translation across 27 languages
• Assessment delivered through mobile application
• Continuous improvements to assessment as based on machine learning
Skilllab technology won the global Google AI Impact Challenge as well as the Google Accelerator working towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
Why do you expect your solution to address the problem?
1. Career Orientation: Through completing a skill assessment and exploring the matching results, job seekers gain an extensive understanding of their position in the labour market and available opportunity. Metric: job seekers completing career counselling.
2. Upskilling and Training: On the basis of desired job opportunities, job seekers understand their skill gap and identify possible educational offerings that address it. Metric: Job seekers participating in education/training upon completing skill assessment.
3. Employment: Upon completion of skill assessment (and possibly training), job seekers successfully find a job or switch to a more desired job. Metric: Increase in net-income.
Select the key characteristics of the population your solution serves.
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
How many people are you currently serving with your solution? How many will you be serving in one year? How about in five years?
Through product testing, Skilllab has been able to provide skill assessments to ca. 500 (1) marginalized refugees across Europe. While the early stages of our product have been focused on usability testing and improvements, we are currently implementing a metric tracking system based on theory of change focused on increasing the economic income of job seekers.
At the end of 2020, Skilllab will have provided 8500 (2) career orientations and will grow in reach exponential from there.
Within 5 years, it is our goal to provide 2 million (3) career orientations world wide. Those career orientations should result in the majority of cases in targeted educational choices and employment (see theory of change). He economic, societal, health and public safety benefits indirectly expand to a much bigger group of beneficiaries.
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
Within the next 12 months, Skilllab aims to:
Raise 3-5 million USD in grants, investment and revenue
Start deploying it’s application at scale in Europe, Middle East and Latin America
Significantly invest into its product and business development team
Integrate Youtube’s and Coursera’s educational content. Partnership discussions are already progressing
Within 5 years, Skilllab aims to:
Provide a minimum of 2 million career orientations (see prior question)
Link to the most relevant online education in multiple languages
Offer its tool free of charge to all individuals around the globe
Partner with many employers to provide fast track pathways to employment
What are the barriers that currently exist for you to accomplish your goals for the next year and for the next five years?
Investment. To truly focus on the interests of job seekers, we need partners and financial backers that buy into our commitment for impact. Traditionally, HR tech is always focused on the interests of companies, which creates the need for partners that are more invested into the missions than into returns.
Talent. There are a plethora of technical, UX and partnership challenges standing between us and the ultimate value proposition to users. However, we have the right core team and simply need the resources and time necessary to create a transformative career orientation tool. We need to hire the right talent to complement our existing skill sets and execute the product vision.
Scale. To fully leverage the benefits of our AI based skill assessment, we need to hit at least 80 000 users based on current modeling.
Momentum. Attracting the right partners, investors and clients while building a transformative tool is the classical chicken vs. egg problem. One necessitates the other.
How are you planning to overcome these barriers?
Investment. Skilllab is in deeper conversations with impact investors and foundations that value impact over return. External impact evaluations as well awards/recognition will help to convince these funders to back our mission.
Talent. A strong funding basis will help us to hire the best talent available. We don’t suffer from a lack of interest, but need the right resources to give top talent to quit great careers.
Scale. We are currently exploring business models that allow us to deploy our tool for free with leading civic society organizations. This will enable us to quickly hit the scale to truly benefit from our AI-based foundation.
Momentum. In our early stages, we generate momentum from user success stories, awards and enrollment of great clients and partners.
If you selected “My solution is already being implemented in one or more of ServiceNow’s primary markets,” please provide an overview of your current activities in those markets.
Canada. Skilllab ran a pilot of its tool with World Education Services in Toronto and is currently in talks for an extended roll-out.
UK. The tool has been piloted by the city of Bristol for the labour market integration of migrant and long-term unemployed job seekers. Plans for wider deployment are progressing.
Netherlands. The City of Amsterdam uses our tool for the integration of migrants into the labour market. This also serves as a nation wide pilot for the new migration integration law rolled out at the beginning of 2021.
Skilllab also piloted the tool in other ServiceNow markets, but cannot announce any deals at scale yet in those markets.
If you selected “I am planning to expand my solution to one or more of ServiceNow’s primary markets,” please provide an overview of your expansion plans. What is the market opportunity for your business or product here?
United States. Skilllab is currently preparing a proof of concept launch with Upwardly Global in New York. We are currently still looking for funding partners to finance the pilot and an evaluation.
France. Together with Google, Skilllab evaluated in a market study the conditions in France and plans to launch in cooperation with multiple partners. Details to be announced.
Germany. We tested the tool with WBS and are in conversation with Kiron University for a scaled launch.
Select an option below:
Hybrid of for-profit and nonprofit
If you selected Other for the organization question, please explain here.
How many people work on your solution team?
Skilllab is an independent social business that has been boot-strapped and fully funded by its co-founders. The current team includes:
- 7 cofounders
- 2 senior engineers
- 2 interns
- 4 advisors
- 3 contractors
For how many years have you been working on your solution?
2 Years. Skilllab was founded early 2018
Why are you and your team best-placed to deliver this solution?
Our team covers all core competences to build Skilllab’s business and pursue its mission. All team members can build on prior experiences, including experiences in building startup’s, brands and social businesses. Additional to experience, multiple co-founders can relate to the experience of refugees/migrants due to their own background (Yemen, Palestine & Turkey).
Human-centered product development
Digital Brand Management
Delivery of digital services
On-boarding of clients
Impact Evaluation and reporting
The technical and impact focused expertise of the team has been validated by winning the Google AI Impact Challenge.
With what organizations are you currently partnering, if any? How are you working with them?
Tent Foundation. Leading Organisation to extract commitments of companies to hire refugees
ILO. Client through UN and partner. Leading experts on Occupation Frameworks and focused on labour market inclusion.
Google.org. Skilllab is a grantee of Google.org through the Google AI Impact Challenge and is receiving mentoring support.
Google. Through the SDG Accelerator, Skilllab is receiving mentoring and support to reach marginalized job seekers that are most in need of support.
MISTI (MIT). Each summer, Skilllab takes an intern on a scholarship from the MIT computer science department.
Ernst & Young, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters. Pro Bono legal support on governance and reporting.
Green River. Software implementation partner to take care of any customisation work around our core tool.
What is your business model?
Skilllab operates a SaaS model. It sells licences to its clients based on the amount of end-users who use the product and customization features for the app or admin portal.
We address different customer segments: Public organizations (e.g. governments, municipalities or international organizations), private employment agencies, large private employers and non-profits.
Our pricing is divided into three tiers: a basic version, allowing the use of the software; a white-label solution, allowing for individual branding within the app and generated documents; a custom solution, allowing customized distribution and API access.
To reach much more marginalized job seekers, Skilllab is experimenting with models to roll out the tool for free through non-profits. As over the time the cost of an additional user and organizational onboarding massively drops, we can focus on maximizing our impact and changing as many lives as possible.
What is your path to financial sustainability?
Through our business model, Skilllab has been so far boot strapped and so far has a very viable direct path to profitability without external investment. However, as we believe in the transformative power of the tool we are building, we are planning to raise significant capital in 2020.
Currently working on a spending strategy for the next 3 years that covers 5-8 million USD raised through revenue, equity investment, debt and grants. At the end of these 3 years, Skilllab will be a profitable and organically growing social business that developed a matured and transformative tool. This financial position will enable us to focus on our core mission of showing pathways to employment to those that are marginalized.
Why are you applying to the Digital Workforce Challenge?
Signaling to stakeholders committed to supporting marginalized job seekers
Visibility to potential partners and clients
Support in finding financiers and investors
Become member of MIT solve network
Relationship to and consulting by ServiceNow
What types of connections and partnerships would be most catalytic for your solution?
With what organizations would you like to partner, and how would you like to partner with them?
- We would like to systematically approach every major online education provider that offers highly modular courses and content that can be matched to our skill model.
- Through the Digital Workforce challenge, we seek also new leads amongst career services that support marginalized job seekers.
Service Now would be an ideal partner to merge their services/data with ours and approach their client base
- Ulrich Scharf Founder & Managing Director, Skilllab