Digital hub finds new careers, available benefits for jobseekers
The cloud-based Hawaii Career Acceleration Navigator matches a users’ key skills to available jobs and streamlines unemployment claims processing and access to support services.
A new cloud-based digital system connects residents of Hawaii with job opportunities, training and government services.
Launched in June by the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR), the Hawaii Career Acceleration Navigator lets registered users upload resumes and then uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to match key skills to available jobs. Users receiving unemployment benefits can link that account to HI CAN to track their weekly work searches and to be connected with services such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
“It reduces, I think, the anxiety for people not knowing where they’re going to get help from. That’s really what this whole idea was,” said Maricar Pilotin-Freitas, administrator of DLIR’s Workforce Development Division.
It also streamlines the process for state workers and unemployment benefits recipients. This month, 7,000 state residents are relying on unemployment insurance claims. Historically, recipients have had to report their required work searches via paper. Now, they have the digital tracking at their fingertips.
Before, “if an adjudicator or examiner [called] you to say, ‘Let me look at your job searches for the week of July 10 to the 16th,’ you would literally have to show them a document, and if you misplaced that, then, well, my thoughts and sentiments go to you,” Pilotin-Freitas said. “This really allows them to have that data ready [and] available.”
It also facilitates adjudicators’ work because they can use HI CAN to verify that recipients actually applied for jobs. “It really reduces the work on both sides,” Pilotin-Freitas said. “I think it’s a win-win for all.”
So far about 800 unique users have used HI CAN, with 80% of them being unemployment claimants, said Amelia Roberts, senior product manager at Research Improving People’s Lives (RIPL), which created the system based on its Data for Opportunity in Occupation Reskilling Solution (DOORS).
After registering, users can upload resumes, and the system automatically populates some fields, such as fields of study and work experience. Users can edit those using a drop-down menu or adding new entries. Using that information, the system returns a list of available jobs, including salary ranges. User can click to go to a webpage to apply or they can give the job a thumbs up or down and save the results for later.
“Behind the scenes, we have a lot of administrative data working to feed or drive that algorithm,” Roberts said. “We have the wage data that’s coming from the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations that is helping to estimate some industry transitions. That information is used to determine what are some industry switches that would likely lead to a positive increase in wages, which then helps drive which industries and jobs we’re recommending to users.”
The list of available jobs comes through an application programming interface with the National Labor Exchange and Hawaii’s HireNet, where employers post openings. Jobs stay active for about 60 days and the system pulls new data nightly.
“Behind all of this is a [RIPL] Research Data Lake powered by Amazon Web Services,” Roberts said. “This application is hosted through a DLIR-owned AWS account. All of the administrative data sources are being brought into the RDL, and then they are anonymized … without any human intervention, so nobody from DLIR and nobody from RIPL is ever seeing any of the personally identifiable information for any of those sources.”
The department and RIPL have rolled the interface out in phases, starting with the component that recommends careers and training and then adding last month the work search. In mid-July, they added the link to government services.
In the future, Pilotin-Freitas said she hopes to connect HI CAN users with more benefits, such as access to broadband or Wi-Fi to increase digital literacy and equity. “That will be the next benefit people can click on as we get additional grants,” she said.
Funding for HI CAN came from a National Governor’s Association-Workforce Innovation Network grant and the Cognizant U.S. Foundation.
RIPL has worked with other states on DOORS. For instance, Rhode Island and Google Cloud announced in 2020 the Virtual Career Center created with DOORS. According to Politico, the tech nonprofit also has agreements with Colorado, New Jersey and Washington.
Stephanie Kanowitz is a freelance writer based in northern Virginia.
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