Shimmy Upskill & Empower 5.2M Workers
One-line solution summary:
Shimmy Upskill is a joyful, gamified approach to help garment workers gain the technical skills needed for Industry 4.0.
Pitch your solution.
We use games and accessible design principles to teach workers the machine and technical skills they need to stay relevant for Industry 4.0. In 2018, Shimmy piloted the Proof-of-Concept Upskill app with garment workers in Bangladesh and Indonesia. Since then, we’ve refined the application and trained over 786 workers. The brands we currently work with are focused on Bangladesh and we see this Challenge as a great opportunity to pilot the new version of Upskill in Indonesia and build a scalable model to reach the country’s 5.2M workers.
1. Garment manufacturing grows more automated by the day. Workers are not upskilled at pace with automation.
2. Female workers are not considered for jobs running advanced machines.
1. Training experiences designed to help female workers upskill.
2. Leveraging brand partnerships with H&M, Under Armour, and VF to rollout Upskill training program to female workers in Indonesian factories.
Film your elevator pitch.
Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?Equip existing workers in India and Indonesia with country-appropriate and culturally-relevant digital literacy skills and vocational training opportunities
In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?New York, NY, USA
Is your solution working in India and/or Indonesia?My solution is being deployed or has plans to deploy in Indonesia
What specific problem are you solving in India and/or Indonesia?
As the ready-made garment manufacturing (RMG) industry becomes increasingly automated, the 5.2 million garment workers in Indonesia, a population predominantly comprised of women in low-paid positions, needs scalable upskilling and reskilling solutions to help keep pace with the automated future of Industry 4.0.
Automation disproportionately impacts women, pushing them out of employment first, as
1. The male breadwinner model gives men priority for jobs alongside the cultural belief that women lack the innate technical ability of men.
2. Factories favor workers who can operate different types of machines and women are often overlooked for mechanical training.
3. Women often assume more household responsibilities and cannot stay late to attend trainings.
4. Women often lack formalized education, leaving them without marketable skills to find other work when displaced from factory jobs.
The disruption to the global supply chain is not only a concern for workers at risk of being left behind, but also to employers and countries whose GDP is dependent on garment exports.
Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?
Our target population is female garment workers in Indonesia, many of whom are underserved due to, according to the Fair Wear Foundation, a combination of factors including low wages, poor health and safety standards, insufficient protections of workers’ rights, and gender-based violence and harassment in the workplace.
If granted the opportunity through this challenge, we will conduct skill needs assessments with workers to identify their skill gaps in both technical skills and digital machine literacy levels. From there, we’ll evaluate what’s required by garment factories and match our intervention to career pathways that a worker can advance into today on the road to Industry 4.0.
Our proof-of-concept pilot showed that our interface was effective in training Indonesian garment workers, so we are not starting from scratch. For this series of pilots, we’ll take care to understand how to design the experience for Indonesia with feedback directly from workers and factory owners. From there, we’ll iterate on the Upskill app solution and training experience.
(Source: “Price competition is driving many factories to move to areas with lower minimum wage requirements, which is pushing wages down across the industry. The government is not enforcing existing laws on freedom of association, overtime, and legal employment contracts, and there’s a pressing need for better health and safety standards across the board. Workers in garment factories across the country report experiences of workplace violence and sexual harassment.” https://www.fairwear.org/programmes/countries/indonesia/)
How does the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge?
Indonesia and India are two of the largest textile producers in the world and each country is dependent on the garment sector for exports. As Erik Brynjolffson from MIT states, “Countries dependent on the garment sector will need to 'leapfrog' traditional methods for reskilling workers in order to transition workers in time.”
We design for accessibility to unlock truly equal access to training. Our unique user interface and novel uses of AI have helped hundreds of completely digitally illiterate workers leapfrog into technical training quickly. Our methods for training workers and scalable and sticky and can be broadened to serve workers across manufacturing segments. Trainees from our first pilots all moved into higher-tier manufacturing jobs and remember all lessons in chronological order 18 months after the training session. Beyond teaching the technical skills they need to operate multiple machines, we often partner with soft skill training programs so workers have leadership training alongside technical skill development and would be open to doing that within this challenge.
We also do something that should not be underestimated in this challenge: we show female workers what’s possible. Through TikTok, facilitated WhatsApp community groups, and in our trainings, we illuminate stories from women in higher-paid, technical roles in the supply chain just 1-2 levels above where our trainees are now. Being able to relate to someone like them is inspiring and reassures them that Industry 4.0 jobs are in their reach with a little bit of training.
What is your solution’s stage of development?Pilot
Who is the Team Lead for your solution?
Sarah Krasley, the CEO and Founder of Shimmy.
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?A new application of an existing technology
What is your theory of change?
Through Upskill's online game-based trainings (input), garment workers are equipped to operate multiple types of machines, develop the skills to move into different higher-paying roles, and increase their efficiency (output). The diversification of skills and decreased occurrences of defects leads to increased income and job mobility for workers along with improved efficiency for the factory (short and medium-term outcomes). This improved efficiency, in turn, encourages factories to adopt technology faster and shifts the future of manufacturing jobs to be safe and dignified (long-term outcome).
Through an accessible and attractive user experience (input), Upskill trainings are helpful to workers of all literacy levels to ensure no one is left behind in the path to automation (output). Particularly, this supports women - who are often not included or considered for more technical trainings or for promotions - to be included in the future of work (systemic outcome).
Select the key characteristics of your target population.
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?
Our impact goals for the next year include upskilling 35,000 workers in South Asia. In Indonesia, we’d hope to reach at least 100 female or overlooked workers (such as persons with disabilities). Our existing partnerships with fashion brands will help us scale through supply chains in Indonesia while we prove our credibility to factories. Factories are sometimes hesitant to invest in upskilling, they do buy-in for longer-term interventions as they see efficiency and accuracy gains right away. We will train workers for higher-paying roles and diversify their skills to work multiple machines and be successful in an increasingly volatile supply chain. We also aim to see these workers gain confidence in their abilities and consider job opportunities that may have never seemed possible before.
Brands subsidize the cost of Upskill for factories in their network as a part of their CSR initiatives. Then, our goal is to transition these factories to be direct customers and scale 20x per year following, at a minimum. In Bangladesh we have already converted multiple factories to direct customers after proving how Upskill helps them accomplish their own KPIs. Through shifting factories to be direct customers (in lieu of contracts made with CSR departments) we can provide, perpetually, the training they need to stay relevant in Industry 4.0 and see manufacturing work become higher-paying (due to increased efficiency and an increasingly skilled and adaptable workforce), safer (as machines become more advanced and safer), and even joyful due to the attractive and engaging UX of Upskill.
How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?
At the beginning of all Upskill trainings we conduct a needs assessment so that the training can be catered to a factory’s specific need and so we can compare changes in efficiency before and after training. We also assess workers’ skills prior to their engagement with Upskill and then assess them again after the training.
We revisit workers six months later to find out if they have experienced any changes in income or in their roles in the factory.
What type of organization is your solution team?
For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models
How long have you been working on your solution?
Who is the primary stakeholder you will be targeting to execute and scale your solution?For-Profit organizations
Why are you applying to the Future of Work in India and Indonesia Challenge?
We have strong traction in Bangladesh and enjoyed piloting in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in 2019 with a small number of Bahasa-speaking female factory workers. This Challenge would provide us the opportunity to pilot a new Bahasa version of Shimmy Upskill and build a repeatable process to scale more broadly in Indonesia.
In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?