2015 MICROSOFT EXPO design CHALLENGE
Design a product, service, or solution for someone with a context-dependent disability.
Your creation can improve that person's abilities in an existing context, or change their context to lessen or remove the disability. It must meet a clear need and be extensible to wider applications. Demonstrate how your solution maps to a person's motivations and addresses them in context. Your project may be near-term practical or blue sky, but the idea must be innovative, technically feasible, and have a realistic chance of adoption if instantiated.
UNEMPLOYMENT CURRENTLY AFFECTS 8.5 MILLION US CITIZENS
Problem + Opportunity
Through our research, we learned that providing people with the skills they need to find a job is infinitely more valuable than direct job placement. According to Kevin Gerhard of WorkSource, "The most beneficial programs we offer are interviewing and resume building workshops."
Motivated by the tough situations that can influence or result in the contextual disability of unemployment, we began to ask ourselves how we can help people find the resources they need to get a job, and how we can give them a starting point.
How can we help people find the resources they need to get a job?
How can we give them a starting point?
After several expert interviews and hours of online research, we began to ideate concept ideas with the following users in mind:
Approximately 3.5 million people are likely to experience homelessness in a given year (National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty). Among the many difficulties a homeless person must face, is the absence of an address to use on job applications. This creates a cyclical, catch twenty-two situation: it's hard to get a job without an address, and equally hard to get an address without a job.
Imprisonment can degrade a worker’s “human capital” (formal education, work experience, and skills such as the ability to relate to people or to be punctual). it can also lead to loss of social support networks that can help with the job search. Research has shown that having a history of incarceration reduces a worker’s chance of being hired by 15 to 30% (Center for Economic and Policy Research).
Employers can refuse to hire candidates with
a history of illegal drug use, even if the candidate no longer uses drugs (US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). Furthermore, about 1 in 6 unemployed Americans suffers from drug or alcohol addiction—nearly twice the rate of substance abuse found in working Americans (National Survey on Drug Use and Health).
Additionally, we thought about people looking to change careers, and stay-at-home moms re-entering the workforce. We thought about abuse victims, teens looking for their first job, and anyone else who might benefit from a little help and support while searching for employment.
To create the best experience for our users, our design had to be super approachable. While a big brick building might be intimidating for some, we imagined and validated that a "job truck"—in the form of a food truck—would be familiar and approachable by all.
Due to many of our users lacking transportation, the mobility of a job truck provides access to the masses and—based out of a warehouse that can receive mail—a living address for those without.
We designed a solution sans blue sky or futuristic technologies—with the right support, Elevate could begin helping people today.