From the technically savvy bubble of Silicon Valley, it is easy to forget there are people who don’t know how to use the Internet.
JobScout launched across the country today to teach people the essential Internet skills they need to find a job.
I couldn’t navigate my way out of a paper bag without Google Maps, and I tease my parents for preferring checks to Venmo. However, a study by the Pew Internet Project in 2012 found that a staggering one in five American adults do not use the Internet. These 60 million people are predominantly senior citizens, non-native English speakers, adults with less than a high school education, people from low-income backgrounds, and adults with disabilities.
Basic Internet skills are a necessary requirement for many of the jobs available today, and not having these skills makes the process of securing employment even more difficult than it already is.
“There were people going into libraries all around California trying to find work, asking for help, being sat in front of a computer with Monster.com on the screen and no clue how to use it,” said CEO Christina Gagnier at the launch event. “
JobScout seeks to address these oft-overlooked segments of the population through its easy-to-use educational platform that offers 39 interactive lessons. Topics are presented in simple language with a step-by-step methodology that focuses on practical skills. Subjects range from using Gmail to ‘Introduction to Internet Browsing’ to ‘Using the Internet to Prepare for an Interview.’ Once students successfully complete a course, they earn scout-like badges to track their progress.
The goal of the curriculum is to give people the skills they need to get hired. To this end, JobScout provides not only education but also resources to help people with the job-search process. It has modules dedicated to using the Internet for job opportunities, as well as a job search dashboard, a ResumeBuilder, and a one-button submission process with pre-formatted cover letters. Users can manage all the components of their hunt on JobScout and track their progress.
Along with the national debut, JobScout also released its iOS app and introduced COMPASS. COMPASS is a data analytics system that organizations such as libraries, schools, and workforce development centers can use to monitor the progress of their clients. The system collects metrics on the number of users, lessons taken, badges earned, number of jobs searched and applied to, etc.
JobScout is a “startup that was never meant to be a startup.” Its parents company TRAIL develops apps to help people manage their day-to-day life. The team was approached by the California State Library and Link Americas, a foundation that promotes digital literacy. These organizations saw a clear problem and, in true San Francisco form, wanted a startup to help them solve it.
The platform is currently available in 600 libraries in California, and the Los Angeles Office of Education has also expressed interest. Android and Spanish-language applications are also in the works.