How technology will change the way we work and how to develop the most interactive virtual environment?
BACKGROUND TO THE PROBLEM
With the rapid technological advancement, the labor market and offering of employment services is quickly taking a new dimension. The spread and advanced use of the internet implies that most of the services that were previously offered physically, can now be offered in a virtual environment at a cheaper, effective and timely manner. We are slowly drifting from the need of having physical offices or having to meet one in one to offer various services. With the advanced technology, it is possible for clients to access to a larger labor pool through the click of the button irrespective of where they are accessing from. A big proportion of people are now having smarter, numerous mobile devices, faster network access and a growing number of online collaboration and interactive tools. That tells us something which we can use this opportunity to increase productivity in literally any field especially when it comes to changing the way employment services are offered.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM (THAT OUR PROJECT SEEKS TO ADDRESS)
In the labor market sector, there is a high rate of job seekers in the country some of whom do not have the appropriate and adequate job search skills. Most of these job seekers may be having the appropriate skills for the job, but they cannot be employed because they lack the basic skills required in the jobs recruitment such as writing appropriate resumes, adequate interview skills and so forth. Most of these services are not accessible to most of the job seekers partly because they are offered at high costs, few service providers and not being delocalized to all the locations within the province. This, therefore, brings a need to create a very accessible and interactive virtual environment where the myriads of job seekers across the province can be trained on a continuous basis on relevant skills for seeking jobs while increasing their employability index. The potential employees are also having a challenge in trying to get employable people in a cheaper and effective manner. With an appropriate and interactive platform, both sides will benefit from virtual services while at the same time ensuring both demands and interests are met. Productivity needs to be enhanced in the same proportion.
OBJECTIVES OF OUR PROJECT
In the view of the aforementioned problem, our proposal is to develop the most interactive virtual environment where we can offer webinar based workshops, training and e-based resources to and ensure that clients with varying tastes and demands access up to date information on the various job search and skills, and other job opportunities available in a wide pool of resources.
- To train clients on resume writing, personal branding and other job seeking skills, e.g. fillable form.
- To furnish job-seekers on appropriate interview skills
- To offer an effective link for job seekers to access the labor market
- To link professionals in the job market and facilitate the exchange of skills
STRATEGIES THAT OUR PROJECT IS PROPOSING TO ACHIEVE OUR OBJECTIVES
The technological changes have impacted the labor markets, all over the world, not only in the state of Canada. This has caused an internal disruption in almost entire sectors of the economy. Due to this, companies offering jobs are also restructuring their systems to conform to the nature of the market. To align the labor to the demands, we choose to come up with strategies that will enable us to equip the job seekers with finite skills, to make them more employable. A strategy is defined as a plan of action designed to achieve long-term effects. The suggestion of impacting the society by offering the skills that are rarely offered in colleges prompt our intention to provide a platform where professionals can learn beyond the class work. The government has been emphasizing on the use of the virtual model in the delivery of employment services in an aim of appreciating the highly advancing technology. In our proposed service delivery we intend it to be mainly virtual, where all our employment services can be accessed by the clients at the touch of a button. The system also caters for the areas with low internet connectivity where the client can access our services desk via the mobile phone call and can access the similar services as to the ones using the online platform.
In the overview of our model (figure1), a client logs in to the website which is accessible through the use of login details such as the email, ID, location and so forth. The website will make very easy and friendly through the use of a very friendly graphical user interface (GUI). That implies that the various users have to register first and their details get captured. Once the client logs in they will be able to access various employment services which are put under various categories and levels.
Figure 1: Virtual Employment Services Delivery Model
In the first level, the client can access webinar type workshops or live training sessions where they first request what they want to be trained on. Our staff will respond soonest as possible and in a very friendly way to the client requests. The skills to be trained will range from resume writing, interview skills, personal branding, job seeking skills, job sustainability skills among all the other skills about labor demands. The information will be up to date as possible and reflect on the market trends. In the second level of our interactive environment, there will be an interactive platform or interface where the professionals can engage each other to sharpen each and exchange skills and resources at their same levels.
In the third level, we will continuously ensure that the clients can access e-resources and downloadable materials that they can access to get more information about employment services and skills. This will include video and audio clips, archived information, library materials, links to important information and so forth. At the fourth level, the client will have access to job opportunities. In this case, various companies and employers will have a platform where they can recruit people for their various positions as well as posting job opportunities to be applied for by the people already trained virtually. The level will also host links to other possible labor markets and opportunities to be applied for by the job seekers.
For the clients who do not have access to the internet for whatever reasons, can still benefit by use of our phone call or messaging support system, where they can call our support center and inquire about various services depending with their interests. They will be received and attended by our highly trained, friendly and informative support staff.
Partnering of Professionals in the same field
We intend to come up with a platform whereby the professionals skilled in the same field can engage with each other and assess each other on suitability for employability. For example, a person trained in law would be partnered with another expert in the same field, and interview each other. They would be at liberty to research on all possible questions that they might be asked at a real interview session. The major objective to achieve from this is to enhance the skills that are taught by our technical staff through the webinars at work centers spread across the province. Some of the benefits that are accrued from this strategy are:
The individuals in the same field of career can challenge each other in the form of questions, to prepare them for the job interviews.
- It enhances the networks. People can update with the changes that happen in the field of specialization, in a faster and convenient manner.
- It boosts the confidence among the job seekers.
- It also bridges gaps in knowledge between various professionals
Use of Webinar to Disseminate the Knowledge
British Colombia is Canada’s westernmost province with an estimated population of 4.631 Million people. In our proposal, we will be targeting five catchment areas of Williams Lake, Victoria, Maple Ridge, Mission, and Nelson. The random distribution of the targeted people makes it important to come up with a system, convenient enough to sustain and implement effectively.
The webinar is another name for web seminars. It’s a platform that is used to teach specific concepts either through the audio or visual presentation. The system allows the learners to interact with the teacher through discussions, demonstrations or other instructional sessions. The system is supported by augmenting various elements such as the use of internet, computers, and speakers, to enhance seamless communication between the learner and the person disseminating the knowledge. Webinar differs from other services offered through internet significantly. For example, teleseminars are audio, which limits the recipient form eye contact with the learners. However, the webinars have the component of visual, which makes it more compelling and effective way of teaching. The webinars have been embraced in the modern times as a way of sharing knowledge. Some of the identified reason for choosing this strategy is listed below;
- It can be recorded for downloading in case someone misses the lecture. Since people are engaged in various activities and might be difficult to attend the scheduled classes, they will be able to access the audio presentation at their convenient time. This is necessary because the learners can also choose to revisit some concepts they didn’t understand.
- Allows an unlimited number of audience. Webinars are so effective because the entire trainer can teach an enormous number of audiences. There is no need for physical space to consolidate the learners.
- It is the most cost-effective way to teach many people. The learners are at liberty to learn irrespective of the geographic locations.
- No special equipment is needed to conduct webinars. Computers with webcam are enough to schedule the meeting.
The webinar is such effective tools to share pertinent information. The setting of the training will be set to comply with regulations stated that, “Contract will require that Contractors comply with the Province’s requirements for data sovereignty relating to the EPBC: that all live data proprietary to the Province and its Clients and all test environment databases that might be using any live data proprietary to the Province and its Clients relating to the Employment Services must be located exclusively within Canada and exclusively on servers within Canada and all personal information and sensitive information relating to Clients must be stored and accessed exclusively within Canada.”
Figure 2: The Model of a Webinar
Webinar Support System
Webinars should be offered on a common platform, which will be able to capture the details of the client and enable them to offer feedback to enhance monitoring and evaluation.
- Date of birth
- Skills/level of training
- Job Experience
- Feedback capability
- Service Category, e.g. Resume writing, interviews skills, etc
The resources will provide wide range access to information about the labor markets, recorded tutorials, video and audio clips, library materials, downloadable pdf, access to other sources of information and archives. A rich source of information will be a powerful tool that will ensure that our clients are well furnished with the current trends and dynamics related to the labor market. This information will be updated quite often to ensure that the best information is disseminated.
Access to job opportunities
The bottom-line of offering employment services is to ensure that the employability index of people is high and finally for those people to get jobs or to sustain skills at their current jobs. The employers are also seeking the right skills and people who clearly understand the job demands. In our interactive virtual environment, there will be a platform where firms, individuals, government, NGOs, Companies and other entities can post jobs as well as recruit employees to fill various vacancies. They can also access skills very effectively from a wide labor pool.
- Interactive training sessions and workshops
- Training kits in the form of video clips, PowerPoint notes, and downloadable pdf
- Real job alerts and linkages
- Quick feedback systems
Once the clients access our virtual employment services, we expect a paradigm shift in their job search skills and achievement if a highly trained labor force, which in turn will enhance their employability index.
Secondly, we expect that with increased employability index, more people within the catchment areas will be able to penetrate the labor market. This may, in turn, increase the employment levels within the catchment areas.
Thirdly we expect to achieve increased linkages between professionals within the same categories through the exchange platform supported by our system. This will further sharpen their job search skills and skills exchange.
THE EXPECTED CHALLENGES AND POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS IN THE IMPLEMENTATION PLAN
- Low levels of adoption from the residents and general apathy. There could be a challenge for people not utilizing the platform optimally due to low levels of awareness, ignorance or accessibility challenges.
Solution: promotion of the service through mainstream media, social platforms and other platforms which consolidate a huge number of people. These channels are effective in target the audience of interest thus making it easy for the people to appreciate our services.
- Challenge of internet connectivity. Some people may not be able to access online services due to challenges of internet connectivity or affordability issues.
Solution: to solve this challenge, an alternative channel to access the platform that is the use of a phone call or message will be used. In areas where internet connectivity is a challenge, we choose to use phone calls which are more personal and individualized. In this case, the clients will be requested to provide their phone numbers and allow our staff members to call them. Some of the issues that will be handled via the phone are like informing them on available job opportunities, giving them some tips on how to handle interview questions and also writing of the resume. The system will be so individualized and will seek to understand the challenges of every client.
- The high cost of awareness creation.
- Internal data security challenges. Data security is the protective digital security that prevents intruders from accessing the database and website of the particular organization. Heightening the security of the client’s information is one thing that we choose to focus on, with the sole objective of blocking the hackers from accessing their details. Corruption of data is another challenge that we choose to focus on. The problem of data security is not the only experience in British Columbia, but it’s a worldwide aftermath.
- Solution: Keep close systems checks to detect any security threat. It is the best and proved method of mitigating data infringement. Our staff will continually check the activities of the users who log in to the system to access the webinars and search for job opportunities. This will be achieved through monthly audits of all logs and identify any possible threats from the external user. Again, the staff will be trained on how to maintain the data security. Most important, we will employ a considerable number of hours to train the clients on how to maintain the security of the information they input in the system. The strategy will help us to improve safety on clients and our side.
METHODOLOGY AND WORKPLAN
Figure 3: Methodology and Work plan
1. Needs Assessment
The first step in our execution plan will be to identify the existing gaps, Existing challenges regarding unemployment and internet connectivity, and the demographics of the people within the five catchment areas. We will also look at the various opportunities and strengths that can make our system work best. With appropriate needs assessment, we will be able to design the most responsive and efficient virtual exchange platform which respond to the needs of our clients.
2. Planning and design
In our second stage, we will capture all the gaps and opportunities and suggestions identified in phase 1 in the establishment of a virtual support system. Through this consideration in the system design, we will be sure that the stakeholders’ needs and inputs are captured for maximum effectiveness of the statement. We will ensure that the system reflects the local needs and is responsive to what the clients demand.
In the configuration phase, we fetch the relevant e-resources from the online libraries, configure the province system to the database of our services, deploy the services to the local server and ensure that the resources available to all five catchments areas.
In the implementation phase, we will first carry out a pilot program to test that the system is fully functioning and ensure that it will deliver the expected results without a hitch. The initial piloting can be done on a small scale where ten clients are prompted to access our virtual platform from different areas and see whether everything is working as expected. Quality assurance will also be done at this stage.
Once we are convinced that the system is working properly and is capable of delivering the employment services to the client effectively, we will train the support staff effectively on the full working of the system, security and privacy details, how to handle and respond to the clients and ensuring that all of them know their specific roles. We will also extend the training to the people within the five catchment areas on the working of the virtual platform and how they should access and use it. In training, we will mainly conduct physical training.
6. Go Live
Once we have trained our staff and the potential selected clients, we officially launch the system and make it accessible and usable by all clients across the BC.
7. Ongoing Support/Monitoring and Evaluation
To ensure the quality and effectiveness of our service delivery, we will keep on improving our service packages as the demand of the labor market changes and suit the different demands of the clients. Security and privacy of the information of our clients will also be maintained through regular system checkups to clean spams and threats. Everything possible shall be done to ensure that the systems respond quickly to the varying demands of the clients. In the place, we will have an independent monitoring and evaluation department that will keep checking and analyzing the quality of services offered to the client, levels of satisfaction and so forth in an aim to know where to improve.