Economies worldwide are struggling with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, a reality that is expected to last even after people can resume many of their more typical everyday activities. Many businesses have seen revenues drop, leading to rising unemployment and decreased income for hundreds of millions around the globe. In Australia, unemployment rates have reached 7 per cent to 9 per cent. Hon. Karen Andrews, the Australian Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, saw potential growth in the digital sector as one way to start rebuilding the Australian economy.
In addition to government-sponsored webinars and online education to upskill and reskill Australians to succeed in digital jobs, Andrews kept in touch to technology companies in Australia with a challenge: come up with other ways to support digital job growth. One idea that came up was the concept of a skills marketplace. Rather than offering broad courses and qualifications, the marketplace would focus on micro-skills through shorter, more focused lessons.
To help get the project started, Adobe contacted partner Balance Internet, a Melbourne-based digital agency, about turning this idea of a skills marketplace into a working, user-friendly platform. The agency has been a Magento Commerce partner from day one, initially focusing on designing, creating and supporting e-commerce solutions.
Over the years, the agency discovered how the Magento Commerce platform could be adapted to a much wider range of website interactions beyond transactions.
“We specialise in innovating on the Magento platform and coming up with some strong use cases beyond retail and e-commerce,” says James Horne, Director of Strategy, Balance Internet. “We agreed that the skills marketplace was an important initiative for Australia and agreed to donate our time pro bono out of lockdown in Melbourne to build a proof of concept.”
In just one weekend-long hackathon, Balance Internet developed the backbone of a site that would form Skill Finder, probably the world’s first free digital skills marketplace. Built on Magento Commerce, Skill Finder connects Australians with the skills that they need to find new jobs and help Australia become leaders in the digital sector.
Adobe then teamed up with 12 other technology leaders: Atlassian, AWS, Canva, Google, IBM, LinkedIn, Microsoft, MYOB, Salesforce, TAFE NSW, Twitter and Xero. Together, these technology vendors uploaded more than 500 courses based on specific digital micro-skills, from creating adaptive forms to using Adobe Sign with Microsoft apps to attributing value to touch points in a marketing journey. The number of courses has now grown to over 1,000.