Enterprise Podcast Network: To Address the Great Resignation, Get in the Game – Skillsgapp and the Gamification of Career Development

Tina Zwolinski, the CEO and Founding Partner of Skillsgapp, along with Cynthia Jenkins the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Co-Founder joins Enterprise Radio. Skillsgapp is a host of game-changing workforce development technology.

Listen to host Eric Dye & guests Tina Zwolinski & Cynthia Jenkins discuss the following:

  1. So is Skillsgapp the result of the mobile app sensation meeting the stagnation of your typical HR department?
  2. Who is the target audience for Skillsgapp? What sectors would be receptive to adopting the Skillsgapp technology (for example, Skillionaire)?
  3. Does the Skillsgapp Team look to foster high-skills and STEM training through gaming?
  4. You both were successful marketers before starting Skillsgapp. What prompted the move and is it tough being ‘Women CEOs in tech in 2022’?
  5. Where do you see Skillsgapp in the future?

Listen to the podcast here.


Tina and Cynthia are the Co-founders of Skillsgapp, the first company to offer customized, location-based gaming apps focused on helping Generation Z gain career and pathway awareness along with the middle and soft skills necessary to participate in the skills-based jobs sector that includes manufacturing and other technical industries.

Innovating Workforce Development

When Apple’s “Think Different” campaign launched in 1997, the company had no new product to announce, no promotions to offer, only hemorrhaging sales. It featured images of time-honored visionaries like Einstein, Edison and Ghandi, referred to as the “The crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels.” They were the ones to shirk the status quo and move the human race forward. The folks crazy enough to think they could change the world … and did.

The subtext here is that innovation is risky, radical, and also essential. Without it we’d have no lights to turn on, cars to drive, antidotes that cure. Advanced manufacturing industries know this all too well, whose sole raison d’etre is to propel the human race forward, innovating not just how we do things, but how we can do them better.

Which is why it’s profoundly counterintuitive how, year after year, our industry innovators haven’t been able to successfully extend that same production and manufacturing approach to their workforce development practices in order to fill their talent pipeline. American manufacturing is still reported to suffer from 2.4 million jobs unfilled through 2028, causing a potential economic loss of $2.5 trillion, despite the fact they have innovated their operations to include AI and robotics, state-of-the-art systems to maximize the safety and wellbeing of their workforce, and the average yearly salary is $76,258.

Is this next generation simply a lost cause? No. Traditional workforce development tactics are. 

Traditional workforce development methods graphic

(Sources: Job fairs: 600 attendees, pre-pandemic; Website: Conversion under 3%.)


Digital Transformation

While it’s been said before, it’s worth repeating. We don’t have a people problem when it comes to filling our talent pipeline, we have an awareness problem. Therefore, scaling our outreach efforts requires the same kind of digital transformation manufacturers have already operationalized, having proven that converting manual and analog processes into digitized processes creates better outcomes by connecting people, places, and things.

But thinking differently is hard. It’s rebellious. It’s risky. It’s also, according to Steve Jobs, “the only way to win.”

A digitally transformed approach to workforce development = high impact. Look for ways to use the very innovation created under Steve Jobs – the smartphone. It’s where your future workforce is at all times and engages through multiple channels more than 7+ hours a day.

This digital tool provides:

  • Deeper, quantifiable analytics
  • Increased scale
  • A faster, more efficient process 
  • Reduced costs
  • A preferred engagement universe for Gen Z
  • An opportunity to un-silo efforts between industry, educators and government through connectivity

That last one is worth a pause. Henry Ford, arguably auto manufacturing’s most enduring visionary in American history famously asserted, “if everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” In an ‘every-man-for-himself’ era, this approach was considered innovative for its time; a precursor to the team culture mindset of today. And precisely why workforce development shouldn’t fall solely on the shoulders of economic developers, government, educators, or industry. That crevasse of a skills gap that needs to close in the next five years? That’s on all of our heads, which, when working together and sharing data and resources, will move us all forward. States and regions will be more competitive in business recruitment when they can fill industries’ pipeline; Departments of Education can prepare more kids for meaningful futures in their own backyard; and industry can continue to change the world on American soil. This kind of collaboration in workforce development is a win-win-win.


Nothing changes if nothing changes

“Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation.”  – Dean Kamen (Inventor of the Segway and iBOT)

So while innovation may seem risky and radical, history has already shown us that it’s also essential. Author Geoffrey A. Moore coins the perilous dynamic of this a chasm – the space between innovative visionaries and the more mainstream pragmatists, who, typically (and ironically), helm workforce development initiatives for the most innovative industries in the world. But if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the power of the pivot that makes or breaks a business, no matter what business you’re in.

So what would Steve Jobs do to attract a new generation of manufacturing talent to save us from off-shoring doom? After selling out of a $500+ never-seen-before mobile phone/computer in January of 2007 with zero inventory, he would innovate. 

And he would win.

Share any feedback below or ways in which you are innovating workforce development.

Bio.News – SCBIO launches ‘Rad Lab’: South Carolina’s Life Sciences Workforce Game-Changing App

The South Carolina Biotechnology Industry Organization (SCBIO) is pleased to announce the launch of its first-in-kind, next-generation life sciences workforce development mobile app, undertaken at an Executive Breakfast held at the Omni Hotel on Wednesday, June 15th.

‘Rad Lab’ is designed for middle- and high schoolers across South Carolina. It is part of a workforce and career development initiative spearheaded by SCBIO and select industry partners that seek to connect over 400,000 middle and high schoolers in the state, including underserved youth, to life-science careers via mobile gaming technology.

Geo-specific job descriptions, salaries, educational pathways, and inroads to life science companies are offered through engaging, career-simulated gameplay based on their whereabouts, proficiencies, and job preferences.

“This is a fish-where-the-fish-are strategy,” said Erin Ford, executive vice president and chief operating officer for SCBIO. “By engaging this next generation of the workforce where they are – on their phones – via their preferred form of entertainment, we now have the ability to scale awareness, while supporting regional industry needs.” Read More.

International Business Times: Gaming Your Way To Well-Paying Jobs

By Duggan Flanakin  // For at least 2,500 years, recreational gaming has been blamed by some for the moral and intellectual decline of societies. The Buddha himself is reported to have said that “some recluses…while living on food provided by the faithful, continue addicted to games and recreations; that is to say…games on boards with eight or with 10 rows of squares.”

However recently, many have come to see great opportunities for turning video gaming into a positive activity, even one that brings real-world benefits. Adam Uzialko writes that while video games are often seen as a parent’s worst nightmare, an avid gamer can turn the “nightmare” into a lucrative career. Uzialko’s focus was limited largely to jobs in the gaming industry, though he did suggest that top gamers often do well in information technology.

Today, half of the four million who quit jobs during the “great resignation” are millennials and Generation Z.

Many of them are looking for jobs with better benefits, higher pay, flexibility, and fulfillment, but all too often in the wrong places. Only three in 10 parents, for example, consider manufacturing as a good career path for their children. Lack of knowledge and misconceptions about the trades can lead parents to steer their kids away from these programs, when vocational training might be a surer path to a stable job. Read More.