How skillsgapp is looking to gamify education and career development for Gen Z employment seekers
A new platform launched during the early pandemic has provided an innovative way for young people to learn while gaining valuable soft skills.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light many long standing issues and challenges that has also had a trickle down effect.
One of these effects is the Great Resignation, where a large number of individuals in the workforce have left their jobs.
This reality bodes the question: What can be done to keep the US economy and job force moving in the right direction?
A key part of answering this question is addressing the next generation of individuals who will be making up the US workforce.
Tina Zwolinski and Cynthia Jenkins, two executives with experience in branding and marketing, as well as workforce and economic development, set out to find an innovative solution toward this.
While doing so, they came to see a very glaring reality.
“What we were seeing was a disconnect between what industries needed with jobs and that youth were not connecting to those careers,” said Zwolinski in an interview with AL DÍA.
From this, the question became how to get rid of that disconnect and increase awareness.
This eventually led to the launch of Skillsgapp, an innovation platform that serves to engage the young generation of future workers.
The Origins of Skillsgapp
Launched in 2020, Skillsgapp is an innovative company that gamifies career development and scholastic education.
Through mobile games — dubbed as Skillsgapp Skillionaire Games — young people are able to gain valuable soft and middle skills that can later help them connect to future job opportunities.
This particular approach is a result of two very notable statistics.
According to Pew Research Center, 95% of teens/Gen Zers have access to a smartphone.
In addition, Forbes recently found that 90% of the generation also classify themselves as gamers.
From that came the belief that the prevalence of those two statistics would serve as the basis of Skillsgapp, using a multi-layered approach with the goal of opening doors of access to various different career paths and meeting young people where they are.
“We're a workforce pipeline development initiative company that focuses on preparing the kids, creating awareness to these jobs and an access into the pathways to those careers,” noted Zwolinski, CEO and Founding Partner of Skillsgapp.
Skillsgapp provides skills in key industries — including advanced manufacturing, aerospace, automotive, life sciences, STEM, agriculture, and IT — all within the confines of their smartphones.
“Those are the opportunities where right now there’s about 3.4 million jobs available, and about 2 million of those are going to remain unfilled,” Zwolinski said about those specific industries.
With livable salaries and great benefits, there are ample opportunities in pursuing many of these career paths.
“But the problem is awareness,” added Zwolinski.
With more than 2 billion Gen Zers in the United States, the numbers are there to make an indelible impact in various facets of the workforce.
Skillsgapp is here to bring the awareness and access that are lacking.
As the pandemic has made the younger generation even more dependent on their devices and increased overall screen time, Skillsgapp provides a way to use that screen time in a productive manner — with games that present context to real-life scenarios.
“Our mission is to connect youth to life-changing careers through game-changing play,” said Jenkins, co-founder & CMO of Skillsgapp.
Even without having a parent, teacher or guidance counselor physically in front of them, users are able to use the platform to develop crucial skills to effectively bridge that skills gap that has been a part of the workforce.
A Focus on the Under Resourced
Skillsgapp strategically teaches skills that can bring value to jobs and careers that can be attained right out of high school or without a four-year degree.
For many who cannot afford or don’t have access to a path toward higher education, Skillsgapp is a critical resource.
“There's the best opportunity for all to have access to these careers without having to take on heavy debt,” said Zwolinski.
Skillsgapp also shows users the full experience behind these industries, working to remove outdated stigmas that may surround certain industries.
“We really find this as an opportunity to provide that awareness, but then also to let them navigate without any outside influence on their interests,” she added.
In addition, for users who may want to pursue higher education opportunities after developing their skills, Skillsgapp can also provide an avenue to seek those opportunities.
Jenkins noted that the platform also features a DE&I component.
Users can select an avatar that includes every gender, race, ethnicity, and potential accessory and scenario that can possibly relate to the individual using the platform. It also displays potential salaries for roles within these industries.
“That is a huge priority for our games,” said Jenkins.
Skillsgapp is also completely free to use.
“Our model is we will never charge for anything with our games,” added Jenkins.
The cost-free component adds another layer to the goal of increasing access to these jobs.
The games include a number of rewards and incentives, such as badges and certifications that help quantify the users’ progress and milestones.
In addition, they are provided with mentorship and career awareness that are congruent with their individual proficiencies within the games.
Playing With a Hire Purpose
Beyond the fun that comes with gaming and the value of learning new skills and trades, the long-term benefits go far beyond simply the users.
The goal is to equip this younger generation with the tools to become hirable.
This is where the platform’s slogan “Playing With a Hire Purpose,” was born.
In the process of young people gaining valuable skills and accessibility to new job opportunities, hirers within these sectors are also able to recruit skilled potential employees.
A large part of Skillsgapp’s effectiveness is through its partnerships with schools and workforce development organizations that can help connect employers and job seekers.
The technological aspect of Skillsgapp allows recruiters and employers to cast a wider net of potential candidates.
“From an altruistic standpoint, we believe that we can break cycles and everyone has a path and everyone has a calling,” said Jenkins.
Overall, many different parties can benefit from this single platform, as industry sectors can gain access to a more qualified workforce pipeline; economic development organizations can retrieve data to demonstrate proactive workforce development and a competitive edge; and schools can support career awareness and corresponding pathways.
“So, of course the end game as part of breaking those cycles is employment and is hopefully a fruitful career,” she added.
As the company looks toward the future, Zwolinski noted that the goal is to “get in the hands of all the youth in the United States,” she said.
She added that once that can be attained, the team will set its sights on a global reach.
The key to both goals, however, is more awareness and partnerships that can help the platform reach a great number of individuals from far more regions.
With smartphone access so prevalent and gaming at arguably the height of its popularity, Skillsgapp has the potential to completely reshape education, and in turn, revolutionize the workforce for generations to come by reaching them at a younger age.
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