Life-changing job-seeker tools win CareerTech Challenge Prize

  • Rhys Herriott

    Rhys Herriott

    Programme Manager

    View profile

23 Mar 2021

9 in 10 workers will need to be retrained or learn new skills over the next decade, but in a rapidly changing labour market, it can be difficult for jobseekers and career changers to identify the risk to their jobs and explore their options. Meet the winners of the CareerTech Challenge Prize, connecting workers to the information and support they need to thrive.

Today, Nesta Challenges and the Department for Education have announced Bob UK and Would You Rather Be as the winner and runner-up of a £1.2 million initiative to equip workers with the tools, information and support they need to navigate the labour market and plan their future careers.

These innovators were selected by an expert judging panel from a competitive field of 20 finalists, and will share in £200,000 to continue to develop and scale their solutions. They were announced at Nesta’s event, The Changing World of Work.

Winner: Bob
Bayes Impact and ACH

Bob is an automated online coach that gets crucial, life-changing employment advice to people who need it, quickly, easily and for free. Developed by non-profit Bayes Impact, Bob helps users understand how their skills can fit with those required by employers, and provide advice to help them improve their job application techniques. Job seekers can receive ongoing digital coaching via email, text and an app that delivers personalised motivational support, helping its users to feel continuously supported.

Through the Prize, Bayes Impact has been collaborating with ACH, a social enterprise providing integration and employment support to refugees in Bristol, Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry, to test their solution and adapt it for a UK market.

A career advisor holds up a paper prototype of Bob UK to get feedback from refugee clients

French non-profit, Bayes Impact, worked with careers advisors from ACH to prototype, test and adapt Bob for the UK.

Runner-up: Would You Rather Be
Would You Rather Be

Would You Rather Be is an AI-power app to help people find career happiness. Users answer 10 minutes of quick-fire questions, and the platform calculates the careers they’d thrive in. Users are then presented with hyper-personalised pathways into each, allowing them to explore the different qualifications or experience needed to get into a given career, and compare the time, cost and available funding for each.

Since the start of the Prize, the app has had over 40,000 users, with 84% saying it helped them discover or get into a career they would enjoy.

Three screenshots of the Would You Rather Be app showing the relevant pathways to become a mechanic, such as completing GCSEs in English and Maths, and a diploma in light vehicle maintenance.

Would You Rather Be provides hyper-personalised pathways into possible careers, helping users understand the time and cost required for them to make a change to their dream career.

Why was the CareerTech Challenge Prize needed?

The CareerTech Challenge Prize was launched in October 2019, as part of a £5.75 million partnership between Nesta, Nesta Challenges, and the Department for Education. The programme initially focused on supporting adults in England most at risk of rapid labour market change – specifically, those without a degree and working in sectors such as retail, manufacturing and transport which are expected to be widely affected by automation. As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, the scope of the programme was expanded to include those put on furlough or recently made redundant.

Although people are often aware of these shifts at the macro level, it can be difficult for workers in an at-risk role to know if or when their own role could be automated, or the skills they should be developing to ‘future-proof’ their positions. Research by Onward suggests that although 64% of people believe that much of the work currently done by humans will eventually be done by robots and computers, only 9% of people feel their own jobs are threatened a ‘great deal’ by automation.

The role of data

A major focus of the prize was investigating innovative uses and sources of labour market information – data which can shed light on the past, current or future state of the labour market. There’s no shortage of this data – government statistics, official surveys, academic research or even data collected from job search sites can all provide a wealth of insight into the skills which are in demand in a given area.

However, this insight is often inaccessible to those who would benefit most. The CareerTech Challenge Prize called for solutions which could proactively engage with workers in at-risk roles, encouraging them to reflect on their careers and explore new possibilities, while providing straightforward, actionable and locally relevant recommendations to help them plan. 

More information

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be sharing more information about our winner and runner-up and their journey bringing their solutions to life. In the meantime, you can read about all of our finalists, or explore all of the innovations supported through the CareerTech Challenge in this interactive storyboard.

Nesta Challenges is also delivering the Rapid Recovery Challenge, to support those most affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19 – you can read about their semi-finalists here. Alternatively, consider joining our Rapid Recovery Challenge Network  to help connect our innovators to the communities most in need of their solutions.

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