|By||http://e27.cohttp://e27.sg/2012/10/12/kalibrr-a-philippine-startups-solution-to-the-global-skills-gap-problem/||| Oct 12, 2012 | Featured|
Tech startup Kalibrr sets out to redefine how people qualify for and land jobs – starting with jobseekers in the Philippines.
In a nutshell, Kalibrr is a website that has two main functions: 1) to assess users’ eligibility for a job, and 2) to train users on job-specific competencies and skills. Regardless of which function a person uses it for, the end goal is the same – to land a job. Kalibrr has partnered with some of the Philippines’ most prominent business process outsourcing (BPO) companies to connect qualified users to world class employers.
Markets across the world are experiencing a skills gap that poses a very real threat to economies. A discussion paper (PDF) released by McKinsey Global Institute in March 2012 reported the worsening of the mismatch between the needs of employers and workers’ skills. According to the study, in 2011, 30% of surveyed U.S. employers reported having positions they could not fill for at least six months, while 26% of surveyed European employers reported a difficulty in filling jobs – both due to lack of talent.
Asia has not been immune to the effects of this skills gap. A 2011 study conducted by CFO Innovation Asia among firms in China, Singapore, and Hong Kong revealed that many found it more difficult to source talent that year than in 2010. While they cited several reasons for this, respondents in the three countries considered the largest factor a shortage of required skills.
Things are no different in the Philippines. The biggest players in the country’s booming BPO industry – which many consider to be one of the biggest drivers of the economy – are finding that sourcing skilled talent is not all that easy.
Despite the literally thousands of BPO jobs available in the country and many companies’ leniency with educational and employment background, many still do not qualify for BPO jobs. Only one out of 10 people land a BPO job. Kalibrr CEO Paul Rivera, who had previously founded a BPO company in the Philippines, says “the biggest risk to doing business in the Philippines isn’t natural disasters or corruption – it’s the ability to find enough skilled talent to fill our vacancies.”
This context, combined with local seed funding and top talent from various parts of the globe, brought about the birth of Kalibrr.
Initially launched in Alpha phase in April 2011, the website started out as a training platform for helping users acquire the skills necessary to qualify for a job in the Philippines’ BPO industry. Users sign up for an account at www.kalibrr.com, take the lessons, and get contacted as soon as they complete the online course. A Kalibrr staff member then screens them via Skype, and then refers successful candidates to one of the company’s partner BPO companies for the actual job interview. For users, Kalibrr does all this for free. However, companies pay a fixed fee for every candidate they hire through Kalibrr.
Today, Kalibrr has become so much more. In an effort to create a more effective and efficient tool for identifying and honing skilled talent, the company has been developing its Beta, which is set to launch in mid-November 2012.
For Paul, Beta will “be the first step we take to begin to solve the skills problem in the Philippine BPO industry.”
The first noticeable difference is the look of the site.
After getting to know its audience better, Kalibrr revamped the entire site to better appeal to its demographic of millennials.
Perhaps one of the most important of the site’s new features is the assessment. This is an English test that evaluates a user’s language readiness for a BPO job. Those who pass the assessment can cut straight to the screening interview – the last step before referral to a BPO company. However, those who fail the assessment or score within a certain percentage will be required to take Kalibrr’s lessons to beef up their skills and prepare for the BPO companies’ recruitment process.
The company also sought to enhance the user experience through two additions. The first is a quick orientation that takes users through the Kalibrr process to allow them to set expectations of the program. The second is the use of a new set of standards for web-based e-learning, making the site easier to use, more interactive, and more engaging. For example, whereas before, users had to type in the entire answer to a quiz question, now, they can simply click their choice, drag it, or hit enter. Lessons also contain more images and videos.
Kalibrr aims to partner with more BPO companies to continue to validate its program and get more people jobs.
Never before has a company directly bridged the gap between education and employment in an affordable and accessible way. Paul says, “what we’re doing really hasn’t been attempted anywhere else – I hope to bring this new model of connecting companies with job seekers all over the world.”
In its Alpha stage, Kalibrr has successfully helped several users land BPO jobs in reputable firms in a matter of months. With Beta, the company is looking to exponentially increase its number of hires – across the Philippines and beyond the BPO industry. Eventually, with Kalibrr 1.0, the platform can be used in other countries seeking to plug the skills gap.
Closing the skills gap is a challenge that could not come at a more inopportune time in history – when markets across the world are recovering from or are in the throes of a recession. While governments play a crucial role in addressing this problem, startups are also in a strategic position to cause dramatic change. Kalibrr is only beginning its mission, but is steadily working its way toward realizing its goal of creating economic opportunities through education and employment.
As Communications Associate, Skye Male is Kalibrr’s resident word nerd and grammar nut. When she’s not writing about, researching on, or talking to people about everything Kalibrr, she’s off discovering (and writing about) new places to eat at and destinations to visit.