AWS Public Sector Blog

National Governors Association state grantees use machine learning to connect job seekers with new opportunities


Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, 39 million American workers were predicted to lose their jobs to automation by 2030. As everyday Americans prepare themselves for new jobs, they rely on word-of-mouth recommendations to make reskilling decisions. The data needed to guide them towards effective training are locked up in decades-old government systems.

Research Improving People’s Lives (RIPL), a Rhode Island-based 501(c)3, is a nonprofit tech-for-social-impact organization that works with governments to help them use data, science, and technology to improve policy and lives. In collaboration with the Department of Labor and Training in Rhode Island, RIPL developed the Data for Opportunity in Occupation Reskilling Solution (DOORS), which uses machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), and other cloud technologies to unlock previously-siloed government administrative data and puts it to work for jobseekers by delivering career-path and reskilling recommendations, as well as personalized potential employment opportunities that help state leaders make measurable progress against unemployment.

DOORS combines a state’s own data, such as wage data, unemployment insurance data, and job training program records, with Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud services and RIPL-developed AI to: 1) develop personalized career recommendations in growing industries; 2) match users to available job openings in those recommended careers; 3) surface workforce training programs proven to raise skills and employment for success in those careers; and 4) deliver these integrated components through a user-friendly AI chatbot. Though Rhode Island provided the basis for the concept, the solution is available across the US. The National Governors Association (NGA) has been focused on supporting this strategy and goal for states by sharing best practices to enhance workforce solutions across the country.

This week, Scott Jensen, chief executive officer (CEO) and vice president (VP) of external affairs for RIPL, spoke at an NGA virtual meeting of states focused on enhancing workforce solutions to share their story. The NGA convened the meeting in response to a critical challenge state governments face in accessing, combining, and using data to drive decision making by providing visibility into impact and outcomes of critical government investments.

“DOORS helps state leaders put people’s data to work for them. The DOORS use of AI and ML removes the uncertainty in finding a new job with data-driven recommendations, so that people get back to work with new skills and employers find workers that fit their needs faster and with confidence,” said Jensen. “RIPL looks forward to partnering with states across the country to help get Americans back to work in meaningful careers.”

RIPL developed the DOORS approach as part of a 2019 National Science Foundation grant. DOORS unlocks state data to better support its residents by:

  • Delivering personalized career recommendations to growing industries. The DOORS ML uses anonymized data on job experiences for all workers, as well as market-level data on job openings, earnings, and economic outlook by sector. For each job seeker who uses DOORS, the algorithms analyze their skills and identify which types of new careers people with similar skills profiles to them have tried and were successful in before.
  • Directing workers to workforce training programs that can help get them back to work. If a job seeker needs upskilling on the path to that new career, the DOORS algorithms analyze state data to determine which upskilling programs effectively increase earnings and employment for past enrollees. DOORS delivers those proven effective training options along with career recommendations, so that job seekers can be confident that their training decision is a good investment.
  • Matching residents to best-fit available job opportunities. Job seekers are connected to personalized, highly relevant job posting recommendations in each recommended career. They can connect with employers with a click to start on their journey to a successful job.

“The NGA Workforce Innovation Network was launched in January 2021 to help Governors and states build capacity for near-term innovation and longer-term strategy to prepare their workforces for a post-COVID-19 economy,” said Rachael Stephens, program director, Workforce Development and Economic Policy at the NGA. “As states in our network and across the country develop new policies and programs to help their constituents get back to work, the role of data and interoperability is more important than ever. NGA is proud to feature Research Improving People’s Lives (RIPL) as an emerging best practice in how states can leverage data and machine learning to build strong partnerships and governance models, as well as understand real-time impact and outcomes of reemployment, training and education programs.”

“We are pleased to be supporting the good work that RIPL is doing to enhance AI and ML by providing real-time data insights to state and local government leaders,” said Kim Majerus, leader of US education, state, and local government at AWS. “We believe that utilizing technology and enhancing data to drive decisions will help implement sustainable workforce solutions across our country.”

Learn more here about how RIPL is using data and science to improve the lives of Americans across the US. To inquire about how RIPL can help your team scale data into social impact, reach out here to Mintaka Angell, chief operating officer at RIPL.

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