What We’re Reading! is a new, bi-weekly blog post highlighting our favorite articles about data and analytics from the past two weeks. We all come from different backgrounds and draw insights from a wide range of sources. Follow along to see what’s interesting to us!
The Farm Automation Breakthrough Bringing the High-Tech West Coast and Rural Rust Belt Together
“We wanted to build an automated machine for farmers,” said Thomas Palomares, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer for FarmWise. “We saw the labor challenges, the problems with chemicals and all the regulations around them, and we had an idea to help.” So he and his friend Sébastien Boyer (now the company’s CEO) formed their startup, conducting a seed round of funding in December 2017 and raising $5.7 million. They designed and built a prototype automated weeder, one that can drive over the field and discern between the crop and the weeds, physically removing weeds while leaving the desired plants unharmed. Once they had a working model, they conducted successful preliminary trials in California’s growing regions.”
Using AI to Build a More Inclusive Workforce: An Interview with Lolita Taub
“We use hundreds of algorithms and millions of data points to identify top-potential tech talent via a two-hour screening. No recruiters or resumes are part of it. And, so far, Catalyte has identified raw talent in hundreds of people (48% do not have a college degree, 36% are minorities). We’ve provided them with technical training and hired them as software engineers. And, in terms of quality, our engineers are proving to perform above average; they produce 3x more than traditionally sourced teams and have twice the code quality.”
Coding training and outsourcing service Catalyte launches a toolkit for corporate ‘up-skilling’
“The company’s recruits come from anywhere and everywhere and hiring hinges on a skills test would-be employees have to perform that is monitored by software that tracks how test-takers respond to the company’s questions.
Once an applicant passes the test, they’re brought in for training and given a two-year contract during which time they’re put to work on development projects Catalyte has won from customers like Under Armor, Aetna, AT&T and Microsoft .
Catalyte’s developers are paid roughly $40,000 per year (less than half of what a developer typically makes) while they’re working under the two-year contract and are then allowed to seek employment outside of the company. Any employee that breaks the mandatory two-year contract is subject to a $25,000 penalty, according to a report in “Fast Company.” As they enter the third year, their contract with Catalyte gets renegotiated and employees who stay with the company can earn at least $75,000.
“We’re taking people from all walks of life,” says Hsu. “The average salary is $25,000 for people who have come in to the program… But within five years from working with the company, the average salary is $98,000.”
How Well Do Soft-Skill Badges Work for Job Seekers? New Study Aims to Find Out
“For example, the call for more-empathetic HVAC technicians came to Education Design Lab from TLC Plumbing, a company in Albuquerque. That insight prompted Central New Mexico Community College to add the lab’s empathy curricula and assessments to its applied technology program, according to deLaski.
Empathy is one of the harder interpersonal skills to teach, deLaski says. So the program breaks it into four sub-skills that reflect what employers say they want: the abilities to listen actively, provide validation, identify other needs and values, and incorporate diverse perspectives.
Although the BadgedToHire program trains students in timeless skills, it uses modern job search-systems and strategies to help students sell themselves to companies. Digital credentials are designed to be affixed to online job applications or personal profiles on networking websites.”
Future of Work: Don’t Blame the tools, fix the rules
“Workers in search of a middle-class career have to navigate the rules of financing training based on FICO scores; rules of corporate accounting and taxation favor investment in machines over investment in human capacity; rules of collective bargaining, non-compete agreements, and employer concentration hold wages down; rules of occupational licensing boards and NIMBY zoning boards keep newcomers out of good careers and trapped in long commutes. We treat such civic choices — death by a thousand cuts of working-class efforts to earn and to rise — as if they were gravity, forces of nature beyond our control.
These choices are not gravity, but they are grave. Nor is technology a force of nature. The impact of technology on our lives — and on the future of meaningful work — is the result of research, investment, regulatory, and business model choices that are made by people. We may call these people scientists, engineers, ethicists, entrepreneurs, business executives, government officials, legislators, activists, and voters. AI and big data may optimize certain decisions at speeds that people can’t match, but (some) people decide what to optimize, and for whom.”
Cisco aims to educate 1-million people in networking skills
“As part of the investment, the company has developed Edge Centres, which function as incubators and shared working spaces for small technology businesses. The company operates two such centres, with plans to develop seven more, one for each province in SA.
The Silicon Valley-based business sees this investment in education as a way to develop a constant pipeline of talent for its own business, increase awareness in the market for its products and is now working on creating a talent pipeline for its partners through a platform called Talent Bridge, Katsoudas said.
The platform allows students to register an online profile and match those to job opportunities in Cisco’s partner network. For example, students can register their Cisco certification and fluency in French, the technology group’s partner companies update the platform with job opportunities, and the system matches candidates to those positions.”
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