8vance also matches people with poor job prospects thanks to European cooperation

Suppose you have difficulty standing for a long time, talking or concentrating. If so, it is currently difficult to find a suitable vacancy or job. With the help of EU funding, 8vance is now building a smart ‘ability’ profile. With this, anyone can easily indicate their capabilities and limitations, and find work as easily as anyone else. The new features will become available to all 8vance clients during 2023, allowing them to tap into an even larger pool of suitable candidates.

This initiative was launched by Robbert Boonk. He is director of PHH Academy, a training institute for job coaches, among others, based on the Supported Employment method. For years, he seconded people with a distance to the labour market. Robbert knows all about the legislation and regulations, the possibilities and challenges of effectively employing this target group. Matching and placing people with a disability is intensive manual work. Robbert lacked an intelligent platform that takes abilities and disabilities into account when matching jobseekers and vacancies. He knocked on 8vance’s door to develop new functionalities and matching algorithms for this target group, based on the already existing matching platform.

Thinking in possibilities

In 2021, he started an international initiative, together with 8vance and five partners from Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria and Italy, to develop the technology for such a platform. An EU grant helped him achieve this. But how do you match job vacancies with people who have long-term or temporary physical or mental disabilities? After much research, a scientifically based questionnaire (based on the job capabilities list) was adopted; allowing for a structured yet user-friendly completion of an ‘ability profile’. It says, for example, that someone can stand for a maximum of one hour. That’s the positive way of describing what limitations someone has; in this case, not being able to stand for too long. The employer also answers the ability questions for a job, for example whether someone should be able to stand for more than one hour. The system can then produce matches. Thus, the company is presented with suitable candidates and the candidate with suitable vacancies.

For employers

It is becoming increasingly attractive for employers to hire people with a distance to the labour market. Not only from a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) perspective, but it’s also a legal requirement for companies with more than 25 employees to employ a number of people from this target group (the Dutch Quota Regulation). Apart from these external motivations, there is plenty of intrinsic motivation among entrepreneurs. They are very keen for more staff and are increasingly looking at new target groups to do so.

By breaking up the work into separate assignments, for example, it becomes much easier to find new people. Both parties remain flexible, while the work becomes more manageable and, after getting to know each other ‘on the job’, they can decide on long-term employment.

The future for Intelligent Matching Algorithms

During 2023, the methodology will become accessible to everyone. Robbert says: “There are several initiatives in the Netherlands and the EU to match this target group. But these initiatives do not use intelligent matching algorithms (AI). All these initiatives will soon be able to use this technology in their own platforms. By linking the various sources of vacancies and candidates from this target group, the chances of a successful match are greatly increased. 8vance’s infrastructure makes it possible to create one big ecosystem for this target group, even across borders. Ultimately, my goal is for the job market to become as accessible to everyone with a disability as it is to everyone without a disability. We will then no longer have to work specifically for this target group, but will rather be supporting them to find suitable work on their own.”

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8vance Keynote at the HR & AI Congress 23 January 2024
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