Chipkoo - Career in the new normal
One-line solution summary:
Chipkoo is a transformational digital platform providing skill building and mentoring solutions to individuals, communities and businesses
Pitch your solution.
Employers report a significant gap in skills and competencies when hiring new talent. This challenge for youth employment got further intensified with covid-19 due to large scale termination of internship and training programs. As a result many young people, including graduates, are struggling to find jobs.
Understanding ongoing mobility challenges, Chipkoo launched an online training and mentorship platform where we train young participants in a Global Certified Virtual internship program (GCVIP) and assist them in job placements; aimed at creating more employment opportunities. During the program's 8 weeks, interns attend sessions by industry experts, get assigned mentors and work on projects offered by our partner companies (also their potential future employers).
GCVIP can be scaled globally through partnerships with local and regional educators and stakeholders. We see potential to train up to 100,000 interns in the next 5 years; helping them get employed and improve their livelihoods.
Film your elevator pitch.
What specific problem are you solving?
ILO notes that there is a significant gap in skills that are sought by the employers versus those taught by educational institutions. Just in South Asia, over 150 million people are expected to enter the labor market by 2030, with UNICEF reporting that the region, already gripped by high graduate unemployment rate, isn't quite prepared to manage this influx because of a skills gap as well as mismatch. The situation isn't much different in United States, where a McKinsey article notes that that almost 40% of employers don't find the employees with necessary skills.
The list of skills and competencies that employers find short in fresh graduates and new employees range from soft skills to use of work tools and technologies. QS Global Skills Gap Report notes that problem-solving, communication, creativity and data skills are some of the major gap areas. Chipkoo's own survey with employers revealed that candidates with demonstrated use of such professional skills are preferred as training new employees without any guarantee of retention can be a risky investment. This challenge has further aggravated during covid-19 surge with up to 61% employers reportedly cancelling internships this summer in some countries, thus decreasing access to on-job training opportunities.
What is your solution?
Chipkoo GCVIP is an 8-week long program conducted virtually, focusing on four key components 1) Core Competencies and Skill Building 2) Project Based Training 3) Mentorship 4) Networking. Chipkoo follows the NACE model for career readiness that is based on eight core competencies including problem-solving, communication, use of digital technology and embracing diversity among others. Each cohort has 15-20 interns.
First four weeks revolve around live online sessions on these topics by industry experts and mentors. These sessions also cover topics like resume writing, remote working and mental health.
During the last four weeks, interns are divided into different project groups as per their skills and interest. Each group is assigned a project by one of our partner companies as well as a project mentor who leads them throughout the project. Interns use modern communication and project management tools for carrying out their tasks. These project typically add value to partner companies in fields of market research, programming and/or digital marketing. For interns, its a practical experience to apply the skills and competencies they learnt during live sessions with special emphasis on leadership, teamwork, creativity and problem solving.
After graduation, Chipkoo work with interns to help them in job placement.
Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?
Our target population consists of mainly final year college students or fresh graduates in the 20-25 years age group. This group also includes graduates who have not found relevant employment as yet. While majority of our interns are from Pakistan, we also have international participation from other countries including Kazakhstan, Ghana and Nigeria. Additionally, each cohort has students from different college tiers plus those with some college education. Therefore, we created a diverse cohort where interns learn from each others' strengths, embrace differences and develop cross-cultural friendships.
We implemented our pilot project primarily in Pakistan where it can be difficult for learners and college graduates of smaller cities or institutions that aren't top-ranked to access employment opportunities. One of our interns is a Sociology graduate from Badin, a small town in Pakistan, and had been unemployed for two years. With Chipkoo GCVIP, he got to work with a UK based employer whose project involved hiring for Kickstart Scheme and is now a candidate for a job role with them. Another intern, who is a final year student, has been offered a part-time financial analyst position by the same employer. This is the kind of impact Chipkoo is trying to make.
Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?Implement competency-based models for life-long learning and credentialing
Explain how the problem, your solution, and your solution’s target population relate to the Reimagining Pathways to Employment in the US Challenge and your selected dimension.
US has a graduate underemployment rate of 41% where graduate respondents said they are working on jobs that don't require college degree. A policy report argues that despite having a significantly high number of unfulfilled professional and high skilled positions, this gap exists because employers don't find enough candidates with required digital and soft skills.
At Chipkoo GCVIP, we build on the same competencies and skills that are required by employers and specified by NACE. We nurture these skills through on-line classes, project based training and mentorship. Finally, we help interns to find jobs as per their competencies.
In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?London, UK
What is your solution’s stage of development?Pilot: An organization deploying a tested product, service, or business model in at least one community
Who is the team lead for your solution?
How many people work on your solution team?
Full time: 2
Part Time: 2
Support Staff: 3
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization?
We are building a diverse, fair and inclusive culture at Chipkoo. Despite being a small team of 10, we are represented by three different national origins, spread across two time zones. 40% of our team members are women, including the two members working full time on the project. While our GCVIP program has initially been focused on Pakistan, we have also trained participants from Kazakhstan, Nigeria and Ghana. Additionally, women made up about 50% of our last two cohorts.
As we expand to more geographical territories, we remain affirm in developing a diverse and inclusive culture that promises equitable treatment
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?A new business model or process
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
Chipkoo's approach is innovative because it follows a hybrid model for delivery that combines five elements.
1. Live Interactive Sessions
A typical Chipkoo live session consists of 15-20 participants, focused on competency and skill building. Some sessions, however, see our multiple cohorts as well as community together that allows for greater interactivity and sharing of ideas depending on the topic.
2. Mentors Portfolio
Each cohort has weekly sessions with mentors belonging from different fields of life. Our mentors are accomplished individuals, typically holding a senior to top management position. These sessions help interns plan their careers better.
3. Project Partnerships
An integral part of Chipkoo GCVIP are projects. These are awarded by our partner companies and they allow students to get hands on-training on performing tasks required by the respective businesses. Some of these companies hire best performers from these projects.
4. Individual Focus
Each intern in GCVIP receives an individual focus. GCVIP analyzes strengths and weakness of each intern and discusses it with them individually. Interns are also placed in projects as per their strengths and skillset.
5. Job Placement
After graduation, Chipkoo assists its graduates in finding relevant jobs.
Platforms like Udemy, Coursera and GoSkills have online, learn-at-your-own-pace courses related to core competencies and skill building, but none of them go beyond sessions to offer mentorship, live projects, individual focus or job placements. Platforms like Flockjay and Ondelta are offering these elements but they are operating in specific domains like tech sales and marketing respectively.
Describe the core technology, if applicable, that powers your solution.
Technology remains an integral part of Chipkoo GCVIP as the sessions and projects are conducted remotely. Chipkoo relies mainly on following technologies and tools to deliver GCVIP.
a. Community Platform: Chipkoo's website is integrated with a community platform of its own where interns sign up for internships as well as are made part of groups of their respective cohorts. We are also creating an Alumni group where participants from all cohorts of Chipkoo can interact with each other.
b. Google Meet: Live sessions are held on Google Meet.
c. Asana: Projects tasks are managed via Asana.
d. Slack: Slack is used for all team and interpersonal communication during projects.
Provide evidence that this technology works.
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
What is your theory of change?
Chipkoo works on developing core competencies and skillset of interns in its Global Certified Virtual Internship Program (GCVIP), primarily based on acknowledged models for employment readiness. This is done via live sessions, mentorships and hands-on-training on projects offered by companies. GCVIP is a 8-weeks program carried out in cohorts of 15-20 interns each. After internship period is over, Chipkoo assists its graduates in finding jobs.
Immediate outcome of GCVIP is that interns get to learn skills they are not taught in typical classrooms. They also get to self-assess their strengths and weakness and identify areas of improvement. Mentoring sessions will help them choose the right career path and course of actions. The competencies they learn, together with practical demonstration in projects, will help them produce a solid resume and focused job-seeking attitude that is line with their skills, strengths and goals. Here is what our interns have to say about GCVIP.
In the short-term, interns get to find jobs that is relevant to their education and skillset. The core-competencies and digital skillsets interns that interns get to build will increase their job readiness, thus making them a strong candidate to get hired in their relevant fields. The notion that learning core competencies lead to better employability is supported by an OECD report prepared for the G-20 Employment Work Group as well as independent studies. They will be able to embark on chosen careers, pay-off their debts and upgrade their lifestyles.
In the long run, such an initiative will help communities and economies at large. Communities will have more responsible members who will be buying from more local businesses, spending on holidays and contributing in donations. They will also be contributing to economy through taxes and will help bring down the unemployment rate. Some of these individuals will go on to become entrepreneurs, found new ventures and generating new employment opportunities for others.
Select the key characteristics of your target population.
How many people does your solution currently serve? How many people did your solution serve in 2019? 2018? 2017?
Started in Sep 2020: Currently serving 60+ people.
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
In the next year, we plan to expand the GCVIP to new geographies including the UK, where the organization is based, and the United States. We plan to partner with US organizations and deliver the GCVIP to young population in the US. Our plan is to train 10,000 individuals via GCVIP in 2021.
Our roadmap for geographical expansion is via building partnerships. These partnerships will be done with employers, local colleges, universities and organizations involved in youth development programs. Chipkoo will provide curriculum, accessibility to mentors and job placement while skill building sessions can be delivered using hybrid models where Chipkoo may face limitations to deliver. In the next five years, we plan to reach out to 30 states in the US including geographically remote states like Hawaii and territories like Puerto Rico that have historically seen high unemployment rates.
While Chipkoo aims to impact 10 million youngsters via its different programs in the next 5 years, we plan to train 100,000 learners and college grads in core competencies under GCVIP, with up to 50,000 coming from US via strong partnerships
What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?
We will be facing the following barriers in accomplishing our goal of training 100,000 young learners in core competencies and skills.
At this point, Chipkoo is at the pilot stage and bootstrapped. Our rapid expansion will need funding, both in terms of equity and grants depending on the type of projects we are executing. Grants will be required if GCVIP continues to be free of cost for its interns like it is at the pilot stage.
Signing up partnerships can be challenging in the first year, specially in new markets.
Expansion into new markets will require familiarity with educational systems, prevalent customs and language in place.
Signing partnerships with employers, educational institutions and other organizations in different geographical territories will require compliance with the prevalent laws. Considering the scale of expansion, we will need to ensure compliance of GCVIP with laws of multiple states and countries.
How do you plan to overcome these barriers?
As we are completing our pilot stage, we are now exploring multiple opportunities that would help us to fuel our growth. These include grants, training projects as well as seed funding. We are actively looking for organizations that share our goals and are willing to be part of our journey.
Chipkoo's core team and and advisories are part of multiple professional networks that includes both employers and educational institutions. Chipkoo will utilize all its relevant credentials to prove commitment to its goals and capability to deliver, therefore making concrete efforts to sign up relevant partnerships. For its pilot, already six different employers have partnered with Chipkoo for projects.
We will be hiring employees and consultants in the new territories we are venturing in who will help us navigate through the new culture and foster smooth communication and relationship between Chipkoo and our partners.
We will be in close coordination with our partners over legal compliance. We will also be seeking legal advice for every new expansion.
What outcomes data would you like to be collecting that you are not yet able to collect?
We would like to collect employability data about our interns regarding their skills and competencies for job placements not done via us. We would like to build a strong case for employability readiness competencies.