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The challenge of attracting capable candidates for hourly jobs - in industries such as construction, retail, foodservice and healthcare - costs companies millions in quality, productivity, and sales. Additionally, many jobs have a high turnover rate in the first six months of employment because of poor fit, or because candidates lack the necessary skills to be successful in that career. Employers are finding it increasingly difficult to find qualified talent in Southwestern PA and because of that, it’s estimated that by 2025, Pittsburgh could be facing an 80,000 worker deficit. The unfortunate paradox is that individuals also struggle to access training needed to acquire and practice basic skills required to fill these jobs. One of the most prominent issues noted by employers is that many of their new hires lack the basic soft skills required to hold a job; while job-specific technical skills can, and often are, trained on-the-job, employers do not or cannot take the time to train soft skills. Even so, employers and other workforce stakeholders have yet to successfully address this issue.
The high number of unemployed individuals in Southwestern PA combined with the projected worker deficit has influenced Simcoach Games to develop and test the effectiveness of soft skill video game training. We partnered with the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board and the Learn and Earn program in 2015 to develop and test three games that help people learn and practice professionalism skills needed to earn a job. These games, together called JobPro, have been pushed out through a network of social service providers in southwestern PA as a tool for improving people’s lives. The result has been overwhelmingly positive with 35,000 downloads in the last year and thousands more each month.
Shortly after the launch of the JobPro games, we launched the Simcoach Skill Arcade as a platform for using video games to facilitate career exploration, preparation, and connection to employment and training opportunities. Individuals play microgames connected to the Skill Arcade, and their progress is saved to their personal profile that can then be used to connect with local employers in numerous industries including: food service, retail, and construction. On the opposite end, employers can view the profiles of potential employees and reach out to discuss career opportunities. In the last year, the Simcoach Skill Arcade has been tested with local and regional organizations as a tool for distributing video game-based training. Organizations such as UPMC, Giant Eagle, Primanti Brothers, and Parkhurst Dining have experienced success training employees with the Skill Arcade. With the support of the Constructors Association of Western PA, the Master Builders’ Association of Western PA, and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local #66, we have recently launched Harness Hero: Bridge Edition and Hooked! A Tower Crane Game, going beyond workplace training to career exploration and preparation.
To address the current need for soft skills training, we hope to significantly expand our JobPro line of games within the Skill Arcade to give people looking for opportunities a fun and easy way to prepare for work. The successful tests of both the Simcoach Skill Arcade and the JobPro series of games have been an encouraging testament to the power of video game-based training. Individuals can better prepare themselves for opportunities by playing free mobile microgames to develop soft skills, earning digital badges that make them more attractive candidates for potential employers. As indicated by the 35,000 downloads of our JobPro games in just one year, we feel that we have the partners and expertise to develop these much needed professionalism games and to get them into the hands of those looking for work in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and that’s why we are asking for UpPrize to fund these engaging and desperately needed tools. We hope you will help us improve the lives of those looking for work in Southwestern PA and reduce the worker deficit. Thank you for your consideration.
Dec 15 2016Organization
JobPro Games for Workforce DevelopmentProduct Stage
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