AI at Work is a popular podcast, hosted by Talla’s CEO Rob May. AI at Work takes a look into AI trends and the future of AI in the enterprise. There are a lot of misconceptions in this space, even around the basics of what AI is and what you can do with it. AI at Work is educational for business leaders, providing insight on how to think about and effectively deploy AI in your organization.
Colaberry and Refactored.ai, whose mission is to become a bridge between the world of disappearing jobs and new opportunities in the data science space, was invited to speak on Episode 27 of the popular podcast, AI at Work. .
Ram Katamaraja, Colaberry CEO and founder, and Pawan Nandakishore, Colaberry’s data scientist join us to share their company’s vision for reskilling and upscaling people who are losing jobs by training them in data analytics and data science skills and helping them to transition to data-based jobs.
Link to AI at Work: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ai-at-work/id1399642701
Listen to the episode at:
Read transcription: http://pages.talla.com/ai-at-work-episode-0-0-27
Preparing the Workforce for the Future of Work
As AI briskly disrupts today’s world of goods and services, some people lose their jobs to the process of automation. Yet paradoxically, as we become increasingly data-driven, more and more opportunities in the data space are forming at the same time as other jobs are disappearing.
Ram started Colaberry in 2012. One of his objectives was to give back to the community by hiring a veteran into his team as a data scientist. As he started looking, Ram found it difficult to find the people with the right skills. The plan evolved - he worked with his friends Anand Dasari and Ali Muwwakkil to put together a team of five veterans and trained them in foundational data science skills.
It seemed that his mission was complete - when the trainees successfully transitioned into data careers. But this wasn’t the end - Ram, Anand and Ali realized that there were a lot of people who would benefit from the kind of training he had offered to the veterans.
There was a clear need for opportunities to learn skills relevant to the industry, and Colaberry chose data literacy as the key skill that they could teach.
“Unlike coding, which is like art work, and you need to have a lot of abstract thinking, data is very tangible,” Ram explains, which makes it a skill that people can grasp more quickly.
Colaberry’s training focuses on basic data skills - acquiring, cleansing, labelling, plotting, and visualizing data, using it to tell stories, and making data-driven decisions. Targeting frontline workers, they are fundamentally giving them skills - both for doing their jobs more efficiently as data-aware individuals and transitioning to high-value jobs.
The results? Clearly impressive. “People who were working as truck drivers are now working as data architects. We have veterans who were working as cable box operators now becoming IT managers. We have at-risk inner city youth working in Silicon Valley companies like Facebook, LinkedIn, and others of similar caliber as data analysts or data engineers after transitioning,” says Ram.
“We started with veterans, but right now we focus on everybody,” he shares, “In the future that’s getting disrupted by AI, for you to operate you need to have data skills. You need to understand how to work with data. Our goal is to create data literacy in individuals and across the organizations, so that we can prepare the workforce for the future of work.”
AI helps to automate Colaberry’s own process. Colaberry created a technology platform Refactord.ai from ground up to automate and scale the training. Students record their practice runs in preparation for interviews, and receive AI-driven feedback on how to improve. What used to take anywhere from 10 to 100 hours of one-on-one mentoring with each student and about 10 interviews, on average, for someone to get a job, is now close to nothing. Using Refactored.ai data is now able to tell very accurately when a person is ready to go talk to a hiring manager, saving time both for the candidate and interviewer. Refactored.ai has been recognized as a scalable solution to address the global “Work of the Future” challenge. During MIT SOLVE’s 2018 global competition, Refactored.ai was named, “Most Promising Work of the Future Solution.” Refactored.ai was also awarded GM’s Prize for Advanced Technologies, McGovern Foundation’s AI for Betterment of Humanity, and Community Favorite Award. Most recently, Refactored.ai has been chosen by JFF Labs - Schmidt Futures as a finalist for the $1Billion Wage Gain Challenge out of over 90 submissions.
Colaberry’s work fills an important niche - as more industries become disrupted by AI and jobs are displaced by automation, more and more people will need to be trained in skills demanded by the industry - and data skills are certainly in demand.
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