The Evolving Landscape of Workforce Sourcing: Google and Amazon Arrive

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Beyond staffing and professional services firms, human resource category managers may not deal directly with sources of labor upstream in the labor supply chain. It seems natural and crucial, however, that category and supply chain managers should be very observant of and interested in what is happening and changing far upstream in the supply chains they manage.  

Technology is increasingly altering the whole labor supply chain from beginning to end. But category managers who are focused primarily on VMS and traditional suppliers may be missing the big picture. After all, intermediaries are important, but only in so far as they are effective conduits or channels of supply. In the world that appears to be emerging, there is very clear evidence of increasing “digital services intermediation” in the established supply chain. Technology increasingly substitutes for or enhances incumbent assets, resources and capabilities, causing established models and practices to change and entirely new industry players to appear on the scene.  

Two recent examples — the arrival of Google and Amazon in the talent supply chain — are no doubt instructive of what is changing.

Google Cloud Jobs API

Recently, Google announced the alpha release of its Cloud Jobs API. It is somewhat difficult to categorize Cloud Jobs API. Perhaps the best way to think of it is as an API-accessible, machine-intelligence, meta-processing engine that overlays traditional job and worker matching systems.

Cloud Jobs API is intended to benefit companies via career sites, job boards and applicant tracking by improving “candidate experience and company hiring metrics with job search and discovery,” according to Google.

“In order to provide the most relevant search results and recommendations,” Google explains, “the API uses machine learning to understand how job titles and skills relate to one another, and what job content, location and seniority are the closest match for a jobseeker’s preferences.”

But on the flip side, job seekers benefit, too. The Cloud Jobs API provides highly intuitive job search that anticipates what job seekers are looking for and surfaces targeted recommendations that help them discover new opportunities. Cloud Jobs API uses job exploration and the data science of career paths to recommend additional roles aligned to one’s skills and interests. Recommendations improve over time as new signals are introduced, the company reports.

For a more detailed, complete and technical explanation, read “Cloud Jobs API: machine learning goes to work on job search and discovery,” by Christian Posse, Group Data Scientist, Google Cloud.

Amazon AWS Educate

In 2015, Amazon launched AWS Educate. The original mission was to enable education of new IT/cloud professionals in a revolutionary way. (More than 500 institutions of higher learning use the service.) Now, according to a recent press release, AWS Educate also encompasses Cloud Career Pathways and the AWS Educate Job Board (in addition to AWS Educate’s core capabilities: AWS Promotional Credits, online training, self-paced labs, a library of AWS resources and educator-shared content).

“We are taking the program one step further and adding a connection to employers who need the cloud skills students can learn on AWS Educate,” said Teresa Carlson, vice president, worldwide public sector, AWS. “We’ve designed Cloud Career Pathways that will help students get targeted experience and skills, and placed those side-by-side with relevant jobs from some of the most in-demand technology employers today.”

There are 25 Cloud Career Pathways or “content modules designed to teach the technical skills required in hundreds of cloud-related jobs.” When students complete their Cloud Career Pathway, “they receive digital micro-credentials in the form of badges and certificates that appear on their AWS Educate profile, which students can leverage on their own job applications” for relevant jobs posted on the AWS Educate Job Board.

We had a chance recently to talk with Noury Bernard-Hasan, Head of Corporate Analyst Relations at Amazon, who told us:

The AWS Educate Job Board includes Amazon, customer, and partner jobs and internships. Each job is aligned to one of the cloud career pathways, so the student can see how their skill set aligns to a given job. Additionally, because every student has a downloadable AWS Educate Portfolio that shows their progress along the pathway(s) and contains the project that they submit, they will be encouraged to submit that Portfolio to the prospective employer.  

“This creates greater transparency for both the student and employer — including skills required for a position, interest/grit/accomplishments shown by the student, and a project as a work sample. As the program evolves, with the increased supply of students ready to enter these jobs and greater visibility into the job match, we believe that AWS Educate can provide students with enhanced job prospects while reducing the timeline and costs to recruit new employers.”

We’ll be writing more about Amazon Educate in coming months.

Educating Ourselves

Google Cloud Jobs API and Amazon AWS Educate provide two excellent recent examples of what we call “digital services intermediation” in the labor/talent supply chain.  

Cloud Jobs API overlays machine intelligence to eliminate significant informational market friction between supply and demand of labor/talent, in effect increasing sourcing flow by enhancing the performance of incumbent intermediaries.

Amazon AWS Educate, with Cloud Career Pathways and Job Board, represent a much more radical case of “digital services intermediation.” AWS Educate clearly enhances and augments the performance of traditional post-secondary education institutions, but it also does much more. In effect, it creates an entire end-to-end Cloud-IT talent supply chain that not only sources talent by finding it, but also by creating it on a worldwide basis — and in a way that dynamically aligns required and developed knowledge and skills.

Google and Amazon provide just a few data points suggesting what a surprising future of labor sourcing might hold. The real conclusion: It’s going to be very different from where we are now.

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