Eliminating the 'mismatch' between job providers and seekers

Poverty Solutions, a new U-M interdisciplinary initiative aimed at preventing and alleviating poverty, announced that it will be funding projects as part of a collaboration with other community-based organizations. The projects tackle such multifaceted issues as access to health care, examining the impact of the Earned-Income Tax Credit and developing a transportation security index.

UMSI assistant professors Tawanna Dillahunt and Walter S. Lasecki (also of the College of Engineering) received one of nine Poverty Solutions grants for “Improving Employability via Physical Crowdsourced Tasks.” Their research will focus on creating a computer-based tool to match underserved job-seekers with tasks and skills aimed at increasing their long-term employability.

The principal investigators will conduct their research in two phases. Phase one will consist of collecting tasks (from sites Gigwalk and Task Rabbit) and collecting skill sets from job placement groups (Guidance Center and Michigan Works!). It will also involve interviews with job seekers to determine which jobs the participants could perform. After the tasks are completed, Dillahunt and her team will rate a person’s hire-ability based on the skills gained from carrying out the specified tasks.

In phase two, the researchers will build a model identifying the tasks a job seeker can complete based on the skills they have and the skills they need to further develop for a long-term job outlook. The team will then deploy the tool and see how well it works based on feedback from the participants.

The goal of this project is to find a platform for which to measure models for subsidizing employment in the future. The discussions with the local non-profits and job centers will showcase how crowdsourcing tasks on online platforms can help job seekers demonstrate their skill sets. The outcome of this project will show if individual, specific tasks, as opposed to a long-term job history, can be seen as evidence to a hiring manager of someone’s ability to complete a job.

The funding is provided through a collaborative program co-sponsored by the Detroit Urban Research Center, a partnership among the U-M schools​ of Public Health, Nursing and Social Work; Detroit Health Department; Henry Ford Health System; and nine community-based organizations.

Posted January 19, 2017