An Australian startup is re-inventing the online jobs market to champion veterans and neuro-divergent applicants.
In January 2022, the company expanded into the UK. WithYouWithMe quickly signed a contract with the UK Ministry of Defence. The contract will see up to A$34 million in digital skills training offered to military personnel, ex-soldiers and military families to help them into cilivian employment.
Former platoon commander Tom Moore joined the Australian Army as a rifleman, like 18 generations of his family before him. When he was demobbed after being injured during his counter-insurgency deployment in Afghanistan, he struggled to find work.
Moore had a business degree, and strong collaboration and problem-solving skills from his time in the Army. Yet when applying for roles in ‘civvie’ street, Moore and veterans like him were rejected as ‘lacking experience’. Employers weren’t seeing their potential, even though they had abilities fundamental to the information age like data analysis and cyber security skills.
‘I hate injustice,’ says Moore. Together with Luke Rix and Sam Baynes, he founded what is now a globally renowned social impact company, WithYouWithMe (WYWM). The partners designed a workforce technology platform that reinvents the recruitment model and brings its disconnected parts together.
To date, WYWM has provided jobs and training to more than 20,000 people. In 2022, the company signed a covenant with UK Defence People and Veterans to provide free digital skills training and job placements for UK veterans and their dependents.
‘Our software system takes someone from being a human resource to an asset,’ says Moore. ‘When it comes to veterans, the principle then and now, is to “do the right thing for those who have served their country”.’
‘It is only right that we protect those who protected us as they transition into new careers.’
Providing jobs and training to more than 20,000 people
Moore’s WYWM journey began by conducting more than 2,000 veteran employment pitches with stakeholders. He became a personal advocate for veteran employment, convincing more than 100 of Australia’s largest organisations to start hiring veteran talent. He has done 18,492 pitches, and over the past two years and hired more than 500 staff.
Through its Software as a Service platform, Potential, WYWM has extended work placement and training opportunities to more than 20,000 high performers. They come from neurodivergent, military veteran and refugee communities. It has also introduced more women to the typically male-dominated tech industry.
The WYWM business model invites a job seeker or employee to test their aptitude. The 90-minute test is self-paced and virtual. It’s accessible at home or remotely. After the test, job seekers are on the platform – forever. Personalised through artificial intelligence, they are matched to jobs or courses, typically high-demand digital roles. If the applicant has the requisite skills, they can immediately go to the interview stage and be matched to employers.
‘This reverses the process,’ says Moore. ‘The jobs come to the seeker versus them finding and clicking on the application.’
On the buy-side of the platform, employers advertise jobs and hire people on the basis of automatic matching. They also purchase licences to use the software to upskill or reskill their workforce.
‘It becomes an unstoppable flywheel: the more software we sell, the more people we can test. The more people we can test, the more people we can train. The more people who train, the more they get hired. The more people hired, the more software we can sell,’ Moore explains.
Training courses to skill up jobseekers
Businesses and governments globally were – and still are – suffering from digital skill shortages. Even today in the UK, nearly 20% of businesses have digital skills vacancies. It’s a similar story in Australia and other economies.
WYWM offers 36 technical courses including a highly sought-after Robotic Process Automation course by the UK-headquartered company, Blue Prism. This aids digital transformation. It also offers courses and certificates in Cyber Security, Data Science and Business Analytics.
In the coming year, WYWM aims to train up to 50,000 people to SOFIA skill level 3 standards – a Diploma 3 in Australia. This will be well up from 5,000 people over the past two ‘pandemic’ years.
WYWM signs UK Armed Forces Covenant
In March 2022, Moore signed the Armed Forces Covenant with the UK Ministry of Defence – and has committed to providing more than £27 million worth of free digital skills training and job placements for UK veterans and their dependents.
At the signing ceremony, Defence Minister Leo Docherty said: ‘… the company is providing the UK’s Armed Forces Community with meaningful new career opportunities. On behalf of Defence, I would like to thank WithYouWithMe for its commitment to our community and this Covenant.’
With Austrade’s help, WYWM’s new UK headquarters will be employing more than 100 staff in the next six months to deliver WYWM’s digital skills training. To balance its books, the ‘profit for purpose’ company provides technical support to its growing client and partner base, which includes:
- global corporations such as Microsoft, Accenture and EY
- the UK, Australian and Canadian governments
- financial institutions including the Commonwealth Bank of Australia
- defence tech giants such as Northrop Grumman.
‘Every time a company buys a licence for WYWM’s software to either access talent or upskill their workforce, we train 10 people for free, forever,’ says Moore.
A truly special place to work
WYWM’s story continues to get better. In 2022, it aims to train up to 50,000 people for free and match them to a job at no cost to the government and no cost to the individual. It competes in seven markets and has 550 staff, with 75% of those from its own programs.
Moore says: ‘We practise what we preach. It makes our company a truly special place to work. It’s all about increasing the cognitive diversity and cultural diversity of the workforce.’
He believes that resumés categorise people as a commodity and says: ‘I don’t believe in a future where that should exist. We believe the world should use aptitude testing and help people identify what they are great at.
His fierce ambition to treat people as an asset is driven by the company’s unique values: ‘Be true. Be fierce. Be the customer. Be transparent.’