When starting Skilhood in 2018, we made a commitment to significantly improve the world of frontline work. The perception of frontline work as low-skill or secondary to the knowledge economy failed to identify just how essential it is.

As well as measuring specific interactions in our product, we also identify impact at an individual level by seeing how users progress in the real world while using Skillhood. Owning a simple, visible and dynamic of record of work can have transformative effects, with skill awareness being a foundational gateways to lifelong learning.

Getting a sense for how work fits into an individual’s life was an initial step. We wanted to find out if an improvement in recognition also lead to improved prospects. Work means different things to different people, so we expected some users to view Skillhood's value differently to others.

One user that we have kept an eye on is 25-year-old Anele Joya, a barista from Cape Town who started using the product earlier in the year. Since May, we’ve been in touch with Anele to get a better understanding for how he uses the product but also, fundamentally, how a record like Skilhood fits into his long-term vision for himself.

Anele viewing his Tendo Dashboard
Anele viewing his Dashboard

Anele first got into coffee four years ago through Sozo Foundation, a charity that trains workers in the Western Cape. This marked a return to Cape Town for Anele, having grown up in small town called Umtata, located 1200km away in the Eastern Cape. Since completing the course with Sozo, Anele has been working at Bootlegger Coffee, a leading coffee company with nine venues around Cape Town.

When we made contact with Anele, he wanted to see how the product could help him chart his progression within coffee.

“I wanted to improve my skills and to train and gain experience and be a professional roaster, that’s my dream. I hope that using Skilhood can open up those opportunities for me and do something better in my community.”

With his Huawei Y7 (2018) setup, Anele was in a good position to use his device on-the-go to access and issue Skillhood Stamps, packages of information that he started to send to his managers to verify work done. While mobile data is limited and Anele’s access to connectivity intermittent, this wasn’t a barrier to getting onto Skillhood to occasionally make updates.

The product has allowed Anele to capture proof of skills and hours, working roughly 40 hours per week and showing ability in skills like brewing, steaming milk, customer service, bar cleaning, espresso brewing. We only store information that has been signed-off by his managers, increasing the frequency of communication between the two sides of the employment contract.

When Anele first started using the product, we noticed some problems about the way he was inputting skills. This made us consider how employees should input their skills: Should a user add their own skills by typing them in, or would it be better if they be guided to a finite set of skills that relate to their work? Something to look into at the start of 2020.

Another issue surfaced in the case of issuing Skillhood data on a weekly basis, less access and more the friction of our product. Though the app works on both mobile phone and desktop computers, the hassle of signing onto the app and composing information on a regular basis is something we need to improve and probably semi-automate.

Anele with his managers
Anele with his managers

In the long-term, Anele wants to continue using Skilhood to build his skills and has a sense of the international network that coffee provides. He follows the progress of Bosnian-born Australian coffee leader Sasa Sestic, and aims one day to work abroad and return to South Africa to grow coffee’s reputation on the continent.

We’re looking forward to seeing Anele progress through coffee and hope the mood in the above photo lasts a long time. If you’re lucky enough to be in Cape Town, find him at Bootlegger’s Woodstock venue.

Images: Calleen Jefferson