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Indiana’s Hoosier Talent Network Folds AI into the Job Search

The Hoosier Talent Network, built out of a partnership between the state of Indiana and Eightfold AI, will help jobseekers find fitting employment with a little help from artificial intelligence.

a digital illustration of the hiring process
Shutterstock/Piscine26
Across the country, states are seeing record-high unemployment rates due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leading some to launch strategic partnerships and new technology to meet the unemployment deluge. 

Indiana is no exception.

According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD), in December 2020, Indiana’s unemployment rate was 4.3 percent. While that is under the national rate of 6.7 percent, it is still higher than 3.2 percent the previous year.

These figures prompted the state and AI-powered talent intelligence platform Eightfold AI to create the Hoosier Talent Network (HTN), an employment solution intended to connect job seekers across the state with suitable employment. In addition to using artificial intelligence to match job seekers to jobs, the platform also helps to match them with relevant training opportunities. All of this works to bolster Indiana’s workforce through machine learning technology.

“With the Hoosier Talent Network, the key part will be that once we know your preferences, the platform starts to inform you and alert you that there’s something available for you that you might be interested in,” stated Kamal Ahluwalia, president of Eightfold AI.

The new platform will dramatically simplify the process for Hoosiers looking to online government employment services.

According to Chad Carter, DWD’s HTN project leader, it will prove to be a useful tool for Hoosiers. For several years, Carter has been responsible for workforce systems within DWD. 

“Adding HTN has provided a new partnership with Eightfold and a tool to help Hoosiers find and explore job opportunities with cutting-edge technology,” stated Carter.

The DWD describes its goals as developing a premier workforce and enticing businesses to relocate into Indiana; the HTN seeks to fulfill these goals by employing, reskilling, and upskilling the state’s workforce.

One thing that makes this platform effective is the use of Equal Opportunity Algorithms to prevent bias. What that means is that neither age, gender, nor ethnicity plays a role in the predictions made. 

In addition to taking those factors out of the decision process, the platform can mask the profiles, letting employers focus on the candidates and their capabilities rather than other factors that are not relevant. Other elements that help provide equal opportunity include an increased emphasis on writing a more accurate job description and providing a dashboard that allows job seekers to see how their application is progressing at each stage.

“We have completely changed the candidate experience,” Ahluwalia explained, noting that not only does the platform recommend jobs, but it also explains why that job may be a good fit. The AI technology allows the platform to go beyond what is listed on the resume, taking other factors into consideration. For example, if a veteran is matched with a company that other veterans have done well in, that information is important as it helps to create an inclusive environment.

“Hoosier unemployment has remained high into 2021 and the HTN platform is positioned to connect individuals to open jobs as quickly as possible, ultimately helping all aspects of the economy,” said Carter.

With approximately 100,000 open jobs currently across the state, Carter is hopeful the new platform and the tools within it will help more accurately place job seekers with employment. 

“Our hope is that by utilizing Eightfold’s AI technology and tool based on skills and abilities, versus keywords, individuals will find job connections quicker and with better accuracy,” detailed Carter.

In addition to gathering data on job seekers’ current skill sets, the technology also provides insight into how they can expand their capabilities. If certain skills appear to be missing from a user’s profile, the HTN will suggest skills that could easily be learned to further expand career possibilities.

In the coming years, the skill sets needed by employers are likely to transform as things like new technology, remote work and automation are considered. The emphasis on helping match job seekers with easily learnable skills is one way to combat this impending transformation.

“The reality is — whether it’s because of AI or otherwise — most of our jobs are going to change in the next three to five years,” noted Ahluwalia. “So, to some extent, it’s upon us to actually make sure that we are relevant.”

Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.
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