YouScience’s approach to career assessment is careful to be inclusive of the disability community.

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The ethos of career discovery company YouScience is plastered in bold letters on the company’s website: “Our goal is to provide opportunity for all, right now.” The company takes a holistic approach to helping job seekers find the best path(s) for their career journey by guiding users through surveys and the like aimed at self-discovery.

According to company founder and chief executive Edson Barton, YouScience set out to give the education and talent tech markets a “heart transplant.” In a recent interview conducted over email, he explained to me how students finishing college are being left behind in the job market, partly because they’re unsure themselves of what they want from a career after they finish school. Barton and his team is taking a technological approach to tackling what he called “the most pressing education-to-workforce issues today”: diversity and inclusion, labor shortages, and more. YouScience wants to show students “what they’re good at”—to empower and open them up to new possibilities as they ponder the age-old question of what to do in life.

Barton cited a few labor statistics during our discussion. One poignant one he threw out was that nearly three-quarters of college graduates, 73%, never work in an industry related to their college major or degree. “It’s an incredible waste of human and economic potential. It’s not because students aren’t capable, or talented, or intelligent,” Barton said. “And it’s not because of educators. It’s the disconnect between our education system and the students, parents, and employers it serves.”

As most tech companies do nowadays, YouScience takes an algorithmic approach to its product. The emphasis on machine learning means, for instance, results of Discovery assessments pass no judgment, nor do they shame anyone for lacking aptitude in areas. Barton said “there are no wrong answers” in the tests. “Even if someone doesn’t have a high aptitude in an area, they aren’t told they’re bad at it. They get positive, affirming, and honest knowledge about their aptitudes,” he said. “Everyone finishes with positive language, knowing what their aptitudes are and which careers align best with those aptitudes. And which education pathways are needed for those careers.”

When asked about YouScience’s target demographic, Barton was quick to reply the service is designed for “everyone.” As ever, that includes disabled people. He said one of the company’s foundational principles is the idea that everyone benefits the world; everyone has “talents and aptitudes” that contributes to society’s greater good. “Our goal is not to tell people what they can’t do, but to discover and celebrate what they can do. [The] benefits for individuals with disabilities are no different than the benefits for any student,” he said. “Any student who can complete basic school coursework, by whatever means, can take a YouScience Discovery aptitude assessment, and find education and careers pathways and employers. We even offer guidance to schools on how to help students with learning differences take the assessment.”

Barton cited one school district, in Bloomington, Minnesota, is using YouScience with students at its district-run Bloomington Transition Center. The Center assists young adults with various life skills accommodations, including job training, finding leisure activities, community participation, and more. The Tennessee Schools for the Deaf also run similar programs with its students using YouScience, Barton said.

Feedback, Barton told me, is universally positive. People “love” YouScience’s holistic approach to finding career pathways, and many wish they had these types of tools when they were going to school. Barton added YouScience’s customers are the company’s biggest evangelists, who aren’t shy about giving raving testimonials. “[While] schools and school districts are our biggest customers, the chambers of commerce and regional economic development groups that sponsor YouScience products in their local school districts see the value it can offer the local economy by keeping young talent at home with local employers,” he said.

As for the future, Barton said YouScience is “growing fast” and intends to continuing iterating and innovating on its offerings. A big goal for them, he said, is to look into international expansion. Amidst the growth and dreams of global reach, YouScience’s core mission remains constant: laser-like “focus on helping to make the education-to-career pathway ever more seamless and engaging,” Barton said.

“There are endless opportunities for individuals, adult learners, workforce services, and employers to leverage YouScience products to help in diverse ways,” he said. “[These include] laid-off workers, upskilling existing workers, aligning adult learners with best-fit education pathways, and more.”

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