Chatbot for Career Chat

Pontypridd company’s CareerChat chatbot project selected as a finalist for the CareerTech Challenge Prize.

Pontydysgu is very happy to be part of a consortium, led by DMH Associates, selected as a finalist for the CareerTech Challenge Prize! The South Wales based ed-tech company specialises in careers based technologies and ICT training for educators.

Pontydysgu’s director Graham Attwell explained the innovative chatbot, CareerChat, as a chatbot providing a personalised, guided career journey experience for working adults aged 24 to 65 in low skilled jobs in three major cities: Bristol, Derby and Newcastle. He says ‘It offers informed, friendly and flexible high-quality, local contextual and national labour market information including specific course/training opportunities, and job vacancies to support adults within ‘at risk’ sectors and occupations’

CareerChat incorporates advanced Artificial Intelligence technologies, database applications and Natural Language Processing and can be accessed on computers, mobile phones and devices. It allows users to reflect, explore, find out and identify pathways and access to new training and work opportunities.

Nesta and the Department for Education have invested in the grant funding programme, offering a cohort of 11 grantees a package of grant funding alongside non-financial support. Nesta is delivering the CareerTech Challenge in partnership with the Department for Education as part of their National Retraining Scheme. Pontydysgu, based in Pontypridd and employing a team of remote workers across Europe, is one of those grantees

Nesta research suggests that more than six million people in the UK are currently employed in occupations that are likely to radically change or entirely disappear by 2030 due to automation, population ageing, urbanisation and the rise of the green economy.

In the nearer-term, the coronavirus crisis has intensified the importance of this problem. Recent warnings suggest that a prolonged lockdown could result in 6.5 million people losing their jobs. Of these workers, nearly 80% do not have a university degree. 

The solutions being funded through the CareerTech Challenge are designed to support people who will be hit the hardest by an insecure job market over the coming years. This includes those without a degree, and working in sectors such as retail, manufacturing, construction and transport.

The CareerTech Challenge runs from October 2020 until March 2021, for more information visit https://www.nesta.org.uk/project/careertech-challenge/

 

A Dysgu Decade

It’s my 10 year workiversary this month. I started out at Pontydusgu in 2009 as a one day per week researcher on a Leonardo project, interviewing and writing training materials for employers on how to make necessary adjustments for staff with disabilities. Today I manage the projects and funding applications for the UK branch of the company. If you had asked me 10 years ago I certainly would not have predicted that. We are a leaner operation these days but good things come in small packages!

I have always struggled to describe my job to others; some days researcher, some days trainer, some days report writer, some days tinker-er, resource creator, lesson plan inventor,  course designer, website editor, blogger, social media campaigner, ideas creator, interviewer, school gardener, treasure-hunt layer, graphics designer, handbook writer, video editor, events planner, project manager, app tester, intern mentor, meeting chair, funding bid coordinator, advisory board member, panel speaker, proofreader, and computer fairy.  I guess that’s the beauty of working for an SME, you get to do a bit of everything.

It has been an amazing 10 years, I have been to wonderful places and met some wonderful people along the way. I have been stranded at midnight in unfamiliar cities. Delivered a workshop with my baby strapped to my chest. Worked through days and nights to meet deadlines. Attended meetings in my pyjamas. Attended meetings and felt underdressed despite wearing my best smart suit. Working remotely means my office has been my home, but also friend’s homes, an attic room in France, a Butlins chalet and countless departure lounges and hotel rooms.

I have no idea what the next 10 years will hold.  Brexit, whatever that means, will certainly have a huge impact, but if it’s anything like the last 10 it will be an awesome adventure!  Thanks to everyone who has been a part of it so far x

Work Place Learning Space

Graham asked me to do something fun which is unusual because *everyday* is fun at Pontydysgu. He asked for five photographs around learning spaces so I tried to capture the five most important aspects of my work based learning.

My deskfullsizerender-5

Complete with coffee, piles of unsorted paperwork, family photos, sharpies, MacBook, interweb, and most importantly a notepad for scribbles and doodles and lists and ideas which need to be instantly recorded, flowing straight out of my brain onto the paper without ever having to wait for the spinning beachball.

 

My alternative desk

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I do my best writing curled up on the sofa in the evenings. I think it’s because it doesn’t feel like work and there are no distractions.

Outdoor thinking space

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Some days a change of scenery and some exercise is the absolute best way to process information, make decisions, put things in the right order. On other days this would be a picture of the gym, but today is a lovely sunny day in Wales.

Mind expansion

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Read fiction, read non-fiction, read about what I’m working on, read about something so far removed from what I’m working on that I have no idea how I found it, read out loud, read poetry, read picture books, reading makes things make sense.

Music

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Graham stared with a cool black and white office picture so here’s mine. Music to work to, music to switch off from work to.

Very Hungry QR Caterpillars

The Taccle  project ran workshops at the National Digital Learning Event for Wales last week. One of the many ideas we presented for embedding ICT across the curriculum was using QR codes to enhance books.

Here’s a link to download ready made codes for The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Cut them out and stick them in the book or use them as part of an interactive display.

Make your own QR codes here.

Have fun!

#blimage

blimage

Curiosity got the better of me and I had to find out what the #blimage was going on in my Twitter feed. Turns out there’s some viral edu-blogging going on. Give someone a picture and challenge them to turn it into a learning related post. This youtube video from the originator @AmyBurvall explains it nicely.

I found my pic on the #blimage pinterest board. I feel like that’s cheating because I got to choose from a great selection. This one reminded me of my Babitech avatar, and also of a podcast I listened to recently about the maker movement.

Making is not just about robots and Minecraft, it’s about understanding your environment, making meaning from the physical objects and space around you. Going back to first principles and learning by doing. A makerspace does not need thousands of pounds worth of equipment, (as nice as that would be) rather like this challenge it’s about creativity in constraint.

All you need is time, some basic materials and curiosity.

That apple in my #blimage, it’s a battery, a stamp, a pie filling, a jam, a sauce, a hallowe’en game, an embryonic orchard, cider, part of a makeymakey piano, a tree decoration, a shrunken head, a source of pectin and 20 other chemicals, a floating tea-light holder…

The ethernet cable however is useless, I’ve got wifi!

Readers of this and the Pontydysgu blog, I challenge you to continue the game of #blimage with a picture from https://www.pinterest.com/sensor63/blimage/ or with this;

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