I’ll be honest, I am slightly cynical about computer based psychometric and skills testing. After all, computer testing or screening does not get under the person’s skin and can’t respond to how they are feeling or the answers they decide to tick.
However, and it’s a big however, I think relatively new business startup WYGU.com (wigoo, or When You Grow Up), a social/careers network that offers computerbased profiling that links you to careers by percentage match, might just be onto something.
I met Steve Taylor, Community Development Manager of WYGU at Youth Enterprise Live, a careers and enterprise event held at Earls Court, London recently. With these events, you often get the feeling that you are attending one big pitch, that each stall that you visit is trying to sell you the next big thing.
However that is not the impression that I got from Steve. He is more passion and substance than soundbite and that is generally a good place to start when making a good impression. Perhaps he is just a good Community Development Manager – after all that is his job, however you do at least understand that to someone from WYGU this is not just a job, but a job of improving career choice from the outset.
Bearing in mind the career choices that you personally make are often very sketchy (myself included) the WYGU platform flips the career choices you make on their head.
If I take you all back to that awful computer test that you had to do when you were at school, it made career suggestions based on the answers you gave. The only difference is 15-20 years ago, computers and software were pretty %$^&£ and therefore, getting told you were good ‘working with people’ was not really that helpful. Even in the recent last few years, public sector paid career advice and psychometric testing, has not moved on that much.
With social networking taking the internet in a completely different direction, WYGU combines a sophisticated psychometric engine with detailed information and on hand advice on the careers it suggests. Steve makes a good point;
“Why decide what career you want, with no evidence that it suits your skills and passions, and then try and shape yourself to fit that relevant course or career? Surely it would be better if, first of all, you discovered your skills and talents and the the roles that best suit you, then launched your pursuit from that starting point.”
A good point really – too many people decide on a whim what career they think will best suit them and then shape the next 3-5 years of their life studying courses to shape that career. And at a time when students are more likely to struggle to find post study employment than at any time in the last 30 years, choosing a degree or a course on a whim should really not be the case.
Steve is perhaps more diplomatic than me, but it strikes me that Universities often consider the financial benefits of getting students to sign up to their courses, before they consider the students’ career prospects and suitability for the course.
We both agree that the economy and career prospects for “young people really hasn’t improved over the last year” and that Steve really fears that there is a “lost generation of young job seekers and this could have a real impact not only on them personally, but on society as a whole.”
However, like many entrepreneurs and startups, and WYGU is a team of three, Steve talks passionately about how all young people and job seekers should not feel destined to not getting a job, but that by using platforms like WYGU, attending events and just as importantly, taking the time to chat and make conversation with people outside of their comfort zone – they don’t know what opportunities they may create for themselves.
And opportunities is exactly what the WYGU platform has created for itself. Having already raised nearly £1M in angel funding, they and are working with many colleges, including Ealing Hammersmith and West London College, where they are a pioneering WYGU Premium Services -developing a bespoke version of WYGU for careers guidance management, and skills profiling of students at enrolment stage.
So only time will tell, but I think WYGU are on to a potential winner with their site – it looks good and talks a good talk – so its over to you, the career and job seeking public to test its potential and the results as well…