Ms Sangeetha Jayabalan

In response to How do you plan to overcome these barriers?

The Initiative depends heavily on the mentors, how are mentors chosen, what is the motivation factor for them to be involved and groom candidates

Abid Iqbal

Our selection criteria for mentors is based on four points, which means they need to

a) have significant experience, skills and knowledge in domains we are covering in GCVIP
b) have inner drive to give back to community
c) enjoy working with youngsters
d) have a cultural fit with Chipkoo Labs and alignment with our goals.

Typically, our mentors belong to senior and top management in large organizations and fast growing startups. For the pilot program, we extended invitation to select individuals within the core team’s professional network, which we plan to convert to open calls once we reach a more mature stage. Motivation for mentors is an equally important area and some of the steps we take to ensure it are.

a. Creating a vibrant program with room for innovation, energetic cohort of participants and availability of resources from Chipkoo Labs; aimed at making the whole mentorship process fulfilling.
b. Making them part of the intern journey (from orientation week to graduation) to feel the difference they are making.
c. Certificates and networking opportunities with fellow mentors. As we grow, we are also planning to include certain perks for our mentors through different partnerships.

Ms Sangeetha Jayabalan

In response to In which US state(s) will you be operating within the next year?

What is the reasoning behind choosing Massachusetts as the pilot state... MA already has good number of educational institutes that offers online programs to build competencies, which are wide spread.

Abid Iqbal

It’s true that MA is home to a number of educational institutes, including those operating in building competencies online. However, we shortlisted Massachusetts for our pilot program in the US after analyzing the following factors.

1. Market Need: MA is a high income state but it was hit hard in terms of unemployment due to covid-19. The state had the highest nationwide unemployment rate in August this year and while the rate fell in the subsequent two months, it still remained above the US national average.

2. Potential Product- Market Fit: According to Boston Globe; arts, entertainment, and hospitality have been the hardest hit sectors due to covid-19. Technology and software industries also reported notable layoffs. Since our program is targeted towards learners from engineering, business and social sciences background who are looking to enhance their employability skills, we feel there is an important market in MA that we can serve.

3. Ecosystem: As an international Edtech looking to start operations in the US, MA offers a flourishing ecosystem in the industry. There is a considerable need realization in the policy making circles about importance of competency-based skills, resulting in initiatives like Workforce Competitive Trust Fund and Learn to Earn. There are a number of non-profits as well as social enterprises working already in youth skills development which we see more as an opportunity to collaborate rather than competition, going by our partnership-focused business model. Finally, Massachusetts has a very strong knowledge economy which allows access to a large pool of local mentors as well as post-program employment opportunities that we help interns with. For an international company stepping in a new market, we believe a strong and supportive ecosystem plays a very important role in success of the pilot program, addressing a multitude of challenges. Once successful, the pilot program can be rolled out to states where there is a greater demand coupled with greater uncertainties and challenges.

Sources for unemployment and lay-off related information:
1. https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/09/12/business/why-massachusetts-has-highest-unemployment-rate-country/ /> 2. https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/09/12/business/why-massachusetts-has-highest-unemployment-rate-country/ /> 3. https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/09/12/business/why-massachusetts-has-highest-unemployment-rate-country/ />

Ms Sangeetha Jayabalan

In response to 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.

Even though NACE is a good place to know the competency gap, having that as the only source has its dis-advantages, how is the team plans to mitigate this risk?

Abid Iqbal

NACE has actually served as our starting point for the pilot program as it provided a good foundation to base our curriculum on. However, as we are looking to expand further, we will be incorporating more standards of learning such as ISTE into our program. We are also working closely with employers and partner institutions to identify industry and market specific needs and address them in our program.

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