Back to Work RI is a public-private partnership designed to train, support, and hire thousands of Rhode Islanders who have been displaced by COVID-19. Launched in July 2020 by Rhode Island Governor Raimondo, this is the first and most innovative workforce development program of its kind in the U.S. Back to Work RI partners directly with employers to ensure Rhode Islanders get the skills they need to secure well-paying jobs across growing industries.
Research Improving People’s Lives (RIPL) is a nonprofit tech-for-social-impact organization that works with governments to help them use data, science, and technology to improve policy and lives. Working with faculty research affiliates from top research universities across the country, RIPL provides powerful, scientific-grade insights at the speed of policy directly to policymakers so that they can positively impact lives, solve pressing social challenges, and build their own capacity to innovate and measure success going forward.
Rhode Island was in need of a rapid, cutting-edge, safe, and easy way to connect workers with new jobs and offer the most effective training programs to help both employees and employers succeed, despite the current landscape. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, an alarming number of Rhode Islanders have lost their jobs, leaving them with no other choice but to file for unemployment. With an unprecedented and growing number of new unemployment benefit filings, and with many of those impacted already being some of the state’s most vulnerable workers and families, leaders were determined to take swift and serious action to get people back to work using advanced technologies to meet the demands of today’s digitized world.
After forming a unique multi-sector coalition, Governor Raimondo, the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT), Google Cloud, and RIPL began developing an innovative, data-driven, user-friendly online platform. Created on Google Cloud, Maven Wave built the application interface and partnered with the coalition to bring this project to life. The Virtual Career Center is expertly designed to help workers in crisis rapidly and virtually connect with new skills training and in-demand careers. Powered by a range of Google Cloud technologies, such as BigQuery, Cloud SQL, Cloud Storage, Cloud Talent API, and Vision API, The Virtual Career Center will now give Rhode Islanders remote access to an array of resources to support their critical job searches.
The Virtual Career Center leverages Google Workspace, including Google Meet, which enables job seekers to schedule video meetings with career coaches, job recruiters, and potential employers. Additionally, the Google Job Search API, an AI-driven job discovery tool powered by Google Cloud, will allow jobseekers to explore career opportunities best suited to their skills and interests. A Career Matching Bot, funded in part by the National Science Foundation, is currently being developed as well. Employing a machine learning (ML) algorithm delivered through an AI-powered Chatbot, this groundbreaking tool uses data from Rhode Island’s Research Data Lake to deliver personalized recommendations directly to jobseekers and employers.
In concert, the Rhode Island government, technology leaders, and top research scientists rapidly launched a first-of-its-kind platform with a forward-looking approach to boost Rhode Island’s economic recovery. Harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI), cloud, and ML, Rhode Island is the first state in the country to innovate at this magnitude with modern technologies to help people get back to work.
The launch of The Virtual Career Center will now streamline employment searches, making finding great-match careers easier for job candidates and employers alike. Job seekers in Rhode Island can now simply access a Back to Work landing page and a preliminary chatbot named Skipper to get on-demand answers to questions, navigate career resources, and access job openings, training opportunities, and support services paving the way for other states and programs.
As this project is ongoing, The Virtual Career Center and Career Matching Bot will launch additional services available soon.
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