January 27, 2021
AI Solution Transforms Digital Employment Services for Jobseekers and Newcomers
The use of new technology in the human services and non-profit sector offers the opportunity to maximize resources, increase the efficiency of services and provide support to a greater number of individuals in need. Additionally, in a year where the COVID-19 pandemic has limited in-person access to critical services and programs, the need for immediate online support is significant and urgent.
ACCES Employment has officially launched VERA (Virtual Employment and Resource Attendant). VERA is an innovative AI solution that will provide much needed employment services online alongside 24/7 job search support for jobseekers in the Greater Toronto Area, Canada and to pre-arrival immigrants around the world. VERA is one of the first AI-based chatbot solutions to be fully deployed in the non-profit employment services sector, addressing multiple areas of service including: referral to specific programs and services at ACCES, intelligent responses to job search FAQ’s including surfacing direct links to online resources, and immediate registration into workshops based on specific inquiries, among other features.
ACCES developed VERA using the funds from a $1.1 million cash grant and in-kind services from Accenture in 2019. The grant aligns with Accenture’s corporate citizenship initiative, Skills to Succeed, which reflects the company’s end-to-end commitment to the global workforce—from students to experienced workers adapting to the shifting landscape. It also builds on a previous grant in 2016 by Accenture to ACCES to establish an online platform for curriculum and services. The 2019 grant focused on building and extending ACCES’s capacity to serve a greater number of jobseekers by taking advantage of new technologies and AI.
“The new VERA solution shows how organizations can harness the power of technology to do good in the world, which is something we believe in strongly at Accenture,” said Jeffrey Russell, president of Accenture in Canada. “We’re thrilled to see the success ACCES is having in achieving its mission to help more newcomers build meaningful and successful careers in Canada, especially at such a challenging time in the job market.”
VERA uses a combination of AI powered natural language processing, search and text analytics alongside integrations with ACCES’s current customer relationship database. The VERA project overall will impact over 40,000 jobseekers locally in the Greater Toronto Area as well as internationally for pre-arrival immigrants planning their job search in Canada before they leave their home countries. The tool will also be widely available as a job search resource for any users online looking for job search support. This will be a critical service as local communities, our province and country target pre-pandemic employment levels as part of the recovery from COVID-19.
“VERA will be an important addition to our employment service provision and will greatly enhance our ability to respond to a consistently increasing number of jobseekers requiring support. We are excited by the new possibilities that AI provides to our organization and to the
sector overall. Accenture’s support has allowed us to take a leap forward to fully realize the potential of this use and to continue to evolve and innovate the application of this technology for our work,” shares Allison Pond, President and CEO, ACCES Employment.
VERA can be found on ACCES Employment’s website and is currently live and ready for conversation. The BETA version of VERA has already provided support to several thousand jobseekers online.
About ACCES Employment
ACCES Employment is a leader in connecting jobseekers from diverse backgrounds with employers in roles that reflect their qualifications and experience. Nearly 40,000 job seekers are served annually at 7 locations across the Greater Toronto Area and virtually through our online services. As a not-for-profit organization, ACCES receives funding from all levels of government, corporate sponsors, various supporters and the United Way Greater Toronto. For more information about services and programs at ACCES, please visit www.accesemployment.ca
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