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Home » Products » Podcast » Season 7 » S07 E02 – Credentials & AI

S07 E02 – Credentials & AI

Today’s guests are Tim Riches founding director of Navigatr and Omid Mufeed, CTO at Navigatr. We’re talking about their history, open badge technology and new AI improvements in the world of badging and credentialling


  • Roots by Alex Haley
  • Funky Business: Talent Makes Capital Dance by Kjell Nordstrom and Jonas Ridderstrale 

Find all of our guests’ reading recommendations at our The Tao of WAO book club.



Important note: this is a lightly-edited AI transcription of the conversation. If you require verbatim quotations, please double-check against the audio!

Doug Belshaw: [00:00:22] Hello and welcome to the Tao of WAO, a podcast about the intersection of technology, society and internet culture with a dash of philosophy and art for good measure. I’m Doug Belshaw.

Laura Hilliger: [00:00:33] And I’m Laura Hilliger. This podcast season is currently partially unfunded. You can support this podcast and other We are open projects and products at

Doug Belshaw: [00:00:46] So today’s guests are Tim Richards, founding director of Navigatr and Omid Mufeed CTO at Navigatr. And I’m going to let them introduce themselves a little bit and tell us a little bit about their history before we ask them about their favourite books. So, Tim, do you want to go first?

Tim Riches: [00:01:03] Yeah, sure. Well, it’s good to see you, Doug, and thanks for having us on your podcast. Very exciting. And I was just thinking actually, you know, it’s been nice recently connecting with people who are involved in Open Badges right from the beginning, you know, connecting with you. Doug Obviously it’s a long time since and we’ve come a long way since we were sort of doing jazz hands on a stage, weren’t we, and pointing at PowerPoints and trying to explain the concept to people to now when things have really moved along and connecting with Petrina and, and Nate and Sheryl Grant and others, and it feels like we’re on a kind of next wave of that, that journey now with Open Badges. But it’s great to see you again and looking forward to chatting to you.

Doug Belshaw: [00:01:50] Thanks Tim, Omid?

Omid Mufeed: [00:01:51] Yeah, and similarly excited to, um, to be involved at this stage. And I’m, I started my career as a software developer. I’ve been Tim and I, we’ve been involved in building multiple award winning platforms over the years. And we, we were part of the open batch movement when it started within Mozilla. And my passion is about helping people building, using technology to help people unlock their full potential and Open Badges is and digital credentials is fully satisfying that passion.

Laura Hilliger: [00:02:37] Wonderful. Um, so the first question that we always ask guests because we feel like we get to learn a lot about people when they tell us what is their favourite book. So maybe we’ll start with you, Omid. What is your favourite book?

Omid Mufeed: [00:02:53] Yeah, sure. I was thinking about this and I wish I could come up with a book more relevant to the topic, but the thing that first came to my mind and I’m excited to go with that was a book called Roots when, which I wrote when I wrote when I Was Read, when I was about 13, 14 years old. It’s about the story of Kunta Kinte being kidnapped in Africa by by slave slave men and being traded into Europe. And then the story takes the this his life and then goes through five generations after that, leading all the way to the abolition of slavery and starting a new life. And the thing that it stayed with me from that story is the resilience and the, um, and and the strength to keep going. Um, yeah.

Doug Belshaw: [00:03:46] So is that the one that was turned into a TV series, which I also haven’t seen?

Omid Mufeed: [00:03:53] Yeah, that is the one. I watched the TV series a few years ago when it came out and it was a it, it was a good experience and connecting it up with how I, how I received it as a child and then how I received it as an as an adult. Yeah, it it is that one.

Doug Belshaw: [00:04:15] Excellent. I must put that on my reading list and I’ll go on literal club reading list for for the podcast. Should we move on to Tim.

Tim Riches: [00:04:24] Yeah, sure. I’ve picked a business book. I’ve picked Funky Business, which is written in 2000 year 2000 and it’s written by a couple of Swedish guys. It’s really hard to pronounce their names. I’m not sure if I’m going to get it right. It’s Kjell Nordstrom and Jonas Ridderstrale. And um, it it was a book that kind of challenged the current business models. It was around the time when the Internet was kind of really getting going and it said that rather, you know, in the past businesses have been really successful by picking an area and just being the best in that area. And in the future, things are going to move a lot faster. And you were going to succeed by being different from other people and that you were going to have to gather a kind of tribe, a motivated group of people together in order to kind of meet a new challenge. The the actual title for the book is Funky Business Talent Makes Capital Dance. And the other factor that it thought was going to be important was being fast. So hearing an idea, getting excited about it, but then getting it to market really quickly. And I read it in 2002 and it was in a transition time. It was an exciting time, but it was also moving into quite a difficult time for me. And I’d launched a business towards the end of the 90s in Webcasting, and at that time Webcasting you had to sort of install a plug in into your computer, the real player, and then hope that after a while over dial up it would kind of eventually start streaming through, but we started broadcasting from clubs in the UK and from gigs and we had some really nice stories about people who were able to listen, who couldn’t come to the clubs and and for distance or disability. And then we started being flown around the world by corporates who wanted us to, to broadcast these, these events. So it’s exciting. And then the SARS virus broke in 2002 and just put a complete end to the business. And it’s sort of a death knell for the business. So it was quite a sort of hard time to motivate yourself as a going through that. And it was a book that just really inspired me to to get going and kind of start ups didn’t sort of happen in Leeds. They happened in in Yorkshire, they happened in California. And I just. They just really got me excited about the potential and learn, I suppose learned that, you know, it learns about dealing with failure and that experimenting is risky, but it’s all sort of part of the journey. And so anyway, that’s my that’s my that’s my book.

Doug Belshaw: [00:07:05] Interesting. I knew about RadioWaves and DigitalMe and obviously Navigatr, but I didn’t know about that previous kind of one as well. Fantastic, excellent. Both interesting books and both will be on our in our book club and I’ve added them to my one to read list as well. Awesome. Um, all right. Shall we dive straight in? Maybe the you know, it’s always interesting when two people come on our podcast just in terms of how you two met and got into business together.

Tim Riches: [00:07:39] So, yeah, I mean, it’s I mean, this is about sort of building a talented team, really, I suppose, and, and having an in-house team. You know, when we started early on, we did some of our development or outsourcing it, and one of the companies we use was in Turkey. And for one reason or another, I think the business failed or moved on in Turkey. And we built a relationship with Omid and fantastic person to work with. We’d become friends as well, and we had to find a way really to get Omid to work with us in the UK. And it took particularly my brother, who I worked with, and Omid, I think was it six years on me to, to actually I mean, it’s so difficult. You wouldn’t believe that process. And so that’s how we met. And then we’ve been working on and off together. Um, well, Omid, you pick it up from there.

Omid Mufeed: [00:08:36] And yeah, sure. So this is about 2008 when we started. Back then we Mark and Tim, they were building a platform called Numu Music. There was radio waves later on added to that set of platforms. And I was I had just finished my bachelor’s degree in Turkey in software engineering, and we started working. I was working from my bedroom in Turkey and this was before remote working was so common. And yeah, the then moved to move to Leeds to do, to do my master’s here and then continue working here. We started doing very right from the beginning. We started doing very innovative things. For example, in radio waves you could SMS a text message to a phone number and it would automatically create a blog post on Radio Waves platform for you. So this was this was before social media, before Facebook was was a thing. We had a we had a blogger who who travelled around the world. I think he cycled or he travelled around the world and he would he would SMS his geocode geolocation to our servers and we would post his location, we would pin his location on the map where he where he travelled. This was in 2009. Back then, technology was very different. Smartphones were not so widely available. And then yeah. So that that that that approach with innovation and, and that was the exciting part. And we have we have stayed on, we have built, I think at least eight platforms and closed many of those. And this is the Navigatr is our latest adventure together.

Tim Riches: [00:10:34] I counted six platforms so I don’t know what the that’s funny.

Laura Hilliger: [00:10:41] The other two are hidden in the in the history books, huh? Yeah, I forgot about them.

Doug Belshaw: [00:10:48] I came across you, Tim was when you were doing the S2R medals.

Tim Riches: [00:10:57] Oh, yeah. The sports reporter stuff. Yeah. Yeah.

Doug Belshaw: [00:11:00] Which, you know, I think my. I think my son had been born, but not my daughter at that point. And just the the you know, he talked about innovation there and technology and what’s possible and stuff and just imagining like my kids being able to grow up and be passionate about a particular thing, like commenting on a sports game and reporting back and whatever, and getting something to kind of be able to package that up in an interesting way so that they could follow what they were really interested in as opposed to just whatever was on offer. And I guess that thread has gone all the way through the stuff you’ve done except your most recent platform is a lot more focussed on on employability, isn’t it? Like on, on like, like linking badges to work specifically. And I just wondered what you’ve learned kind of along the way.

Tim Riches: [00:11:57] Yeah I mean that support to reports program is interesting one that’s the one that really connected us through to the Open Badges world and maybe just sort of taking a few steps back. So yeah, we started working on we were working on a number of different education projects back in the early 2000. And one of the things that we got really frustrated with, we were doing all kinds of projects from media to technical skills, support to reporter was about developing media and communication skills. But when you’re working on this project, you sort of you start to see all these incredible skills that are coming together, but they’re just overlooked and they’re not being recognised. And we thought, well, we could start looking at how we map some of those skills to the formal curriculum. So quite naively, we sort of thought, well, if we speak to the awarding organisations and we speak to the English curriculum people, they would want to do that mapping and it would add an additionality to the qualification. And what you soon realise is that teachers are under incredible pressure already. They can’t add something new into the school and the curriculum and the time. And then I think what the straw that really broke the camel’s back was when we started to work on something called the Creative Media Diploma, and it was a qualification that was developed in partnership with educators and industry, and there’s this huge consultation that went on. It was brilliant. It was a project based qualification around learning media skills, and there was a change in government and they just stopped the whole program. So all of these people had worked together to build up this qualification and it just stopped. And that’s when we started thinking about alternative ways of recognition, and we started looking at badging, but digital badging, not open badging. I think badge fell. We were looking at the time, which was quite an early technology journey, and we started talking about this a little bit and a couple of the local authorities had seen it and someone called me one day and said, Actually, you want to look at Open Badges because it’s an open standard. It’s something where Mozilla are going to bring together lots of different organisations from across the world, from learning platforms, universities, informal learning and it’s just really a kind of gift in terms of a technology. It’d be good to adopt because it would be interoperable as well between different platforms and something that maybe everyone could adopt and it could start to meet that problem of recognising learning in any, any setting, which kind of that’s the journey we’ve been. That’s, that’s the thing that’s kind of kept motivating us over time is to get to that point where we could recognise learning in any setting and then connect it through to opportunities, real opportunities for work.

Laura Hilliger: [00:14:53] So Omid, I would love to hear your perspective on that sort of pathway from a from a technical perspective with all these different platforms and particularly with the Open Badges standard and the fact that the idea is that you can take, you know, take your qualifications with you anywhere, what what kind of learning journey have you been on from your perspective?

Omid Mufeed: [00:15:18] As a technologist, it’s very easy to get an overexcited about the technology and just go on a completely different journey. And I think the lesson I’ve learned is two things. One is it’s not about the technology, it’s about the problems that you are solving. And the technology is a tool and it’s relevant as long as it solves a real problem. And the second lesson is, is the importance of your team and the people and the the. So technology changes all the time. New technologies, new ways of solving the same problem comes around. And it’s not wise to always jump on the most latest thing it is it’s important how much it fits with the with the people as well as your strategy, your business strategy. And at the same thing applies with with Open Badges as well as Tim mentioned before Open Badges before before we were involved with the Mozilla Open badges movement, we were playing with that idea. We had the Radiowaves platform, which primary school students and and young people were using it and they were creating great content. The program that you mentioned, they were creating great, great content and, and making making change and changing their lives, the students lives. But and we were looking for a way to acknowledge this. We had a movement called Champion Schools and Champion students. So every week, every month, every week we. We will choose five students and five schools as champions. But we were looking for a way to to acknowledge that achievement. And we experimented with a with a few different badging platforms that were labels. And then we came across the open badge platform and the Open Badges standard and we fell in love with the with how flexible it was, how portable it was. And the first badges we implemented were about students tidying up their room, taking a picture of that and uploading it. And this nine year old eight year old would receive a badge, that tidiest room badge. And these badges were were published.

Doug Belshaw: [00:17:37] Funny you mentioned that as an example, because my daughter is in scouts and she’s doing her personal challenge badge at the moment and because she couldn’t think of anything else to do, the default one they give you is to keep your room tidy for a period of so many weeks, and then you get your personal challenge badge at the end. So that’s just like a perfect example of a badge, like a digital badge, a digital version of a badge that kind of happens in scouts anyway. And it’s interesting to me how the metaphors have shifted over time that we use to describe badges and stuff as well. But I interrupted you. Sorry.

Omid Mufeed: [00:18:12] Exactly, and that’s that’s the next point I was going to make. So what what? You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. What what applies what have been applicable to scout badges for so many years. You can bring the same concept and apply it to two different problems. And that’s why, for example, we had the radio Ace platform, which was for students for primary school and secondary school students. But then we we soon realised that badges has the potential to do much more to help people and to get into jobs for high stakes qualifications. And that’s why we built Open Badge Academy back then, which was more for adults to, to get into jobs and, and some of the great examples from there was, for example, world chef’s example where they they were internationally recognised badges that chefs could just go go through a series of tasks and record themselves in their own kitchens in Sao Paulo or in in Lebanon and upload their evidence and receive a badge for it and be proud of it and share it around and actually get into jobs or or be promoted in their jobs because of this badge they received. And and that is the that is the satisfaction that you get from seeing that what you’ve built and is is changing lives.

Doug Belshaw: [00:19:36] So before we get into kind of what Navigatr does, which is different to previous platforms that you’ve built and the kind of integrations that you’ve got, I’m really interested in a bit of technology that you released kind of recently, I think in May of this year, where you allowed people to create badges using kind of an AI assistant. And I it’s interesting to me, like I can understand from my point of view doing badges for ten plus years as to why that’s happened. Like sometimes when you give people a blank slate, they all their good ideas disappear and they don’t know what to write. But I’m just interested from a kind of a technical point of view how difficult that was to to implement and also kind of where the where the where the desire to do that came from. Was it like, this is possible? And we’ve seen this problem in the past with our other platforms where your current clients asking for it, like how did that kind of come into being?

Omid Mufeed: [00:20:37] I joined an ai the other day and it’s to the world, it seems like ai was invented in October 2022, but that’s not the case. Ai was there in 1760, even before before that, in different shapes and forms. And so when we started Navigatr, even in the platforms before Navigatr, we we had that innovation hat on and we were always looking for the potential of technology, solving real life problems. And some of those real life problems are in the case of Open Badges, or it’s good to have those badges and it’s good to to put them on your profile. But what does it actually do for you in your life? And does it does it help you? Does it open doors for you? And that is the part that we are more interested in as Navigatr. And so that’s why when we started Navigatr, we put that learning from the previous platforms on a board. I have a screenshot of the first wishlist board that we had. It was full of Post-it notes and then we started saying, So which are the ones that you if you if you could only pick three, pick three out of these 60 Post-it notes on the board. And it was a difficult choice. But yeah, so and we had. In mind right from the beginning when we when we built the platform, we wanted to build something that is open, something that is built on data, something that is built on integration in mind. So that’s why what we we started with cloud first approach. We started with API first approach. And, and we started with, with picking, picking on integration, picking big data, integrating with big data sources to, to feed in data where we don’t have the data ourselves. And that’s why when it came, when we came to the end of 2022 and when I became a thing, it was about time that we had done all of our development, we had implemented all of our platform. The framework was there, so the timing was great. And then I came and with the moving of I, it is it is a little bit of a double sided blade and a in Navigatr. We recently looked at our vision and our ethical ethics around AI. So the implementation of one to we were looking at where I can solve problems for Navigatr and users of Navigatr. And one of the pain points one of the bottlenecks we have is in in creating content, creating those badges. And as you said, the schools provide employers, city councils that we always speak to, They have they have an idea of what they want to patch, but starting on that blank slate is difficult. So we implemented A by using AI. It can give you a starting point that you can quickly change and build more on top of and on the technology side and the AI component. Implementing the AI component in itself wasn’t a huge piece of development and that was thanks to all of the foundation that we built right from the beginning with AI in mind. And and that’s one of the that is one of the lessons that we learned from the previous platform. So if you have that vision in mind, you can start your technology, your team, your culture all around that. And when the time comes, when the time is right, when the technology is available, then it is easy to adapt and and and try something maybe fail, but fail early and then re adapt and and go back to the market.

Doug Belshaw: [00:24:35] So people who listen to this podcast probably know by this point what Open Badges are, and if they don’t, they need to go back and listen to previous episodes. Um, but if you think about how badges has developed over time, people might be thinking, okay, well I know how a badges system works. You go in there, you, you fill in the name of the badge and the description, the criteria and all this kind of stuff. And then you add an image and then off you go. And just for those who maybe haven’t seen Navigatr yet, what specifically is I think it’s like, is it a tagging and the initial kind of description like what? What is AI bringing to the table when people press that that button and.

Omid Mufeed: [00:25:16] Yeah, yeah. Thank you. Uh, that’s a good point. So with it’s worth mentioning another innovation that we rolled out earlier in the 2023, which is the direct link between a badge and labour market. So a badge is a digital digital representation of a set of skills in, in, in a sentence. And but by, by what you put into that metadata defines the value of that badge and how many doors that badge can open for you. And in Navigatr, we have an emphasis on making sure that those badges, first of all, it helps you get a job, it helps you qualify towards towards a course or it helps you improve your well-being or improve your skills. So that and that’s why we work with lightcast to when you create a badge, when we identify what labour market skills that badge represents. And we have built an integration with Lighthouse where you put a description of your badge and it automatically identifies the type of skills that that description includes and that link is automatically there. And then when you go into defining the criteria that a user has to achieve to to receive that badge, then all of that criteria also feeds into into the type of skills that that the badge represents. So. And when you when you actually take it a badge has so much information. It is it is a lengthy process, creating a badge and thinking about all of the skills, all of the criteria and all of the additional attributes that go with that. It is a lengthy process when you start with a blank.

Doug Belshaw: [00:27:13] It’s fascinating to me. And you know, like since the start of this year, I think people have thought, oh, I can just eliminate lots of people’s job functions and stuff and just use ChatGPT and whatever. And I don’t know if you’ve tried, you probably have tried to ask ChatGPT to create the metadata for badges and like sometimes you get lucky and it’ll just create something sensible. But most of the time, even on the paid for version, it creates the most random stuff. And so having a built into a tool which has the context already built in and presumably is trained on not just a very wide ranging model but specific like labour market data, like you say, just seems so much more useful than, you know, scattergun general purpose approach.

Tim Riches: [00:28:02] You’re having had a really interesting conversation with a teacher this week, and we were showing the the AI assistant and and she said, I’ve got to keep my voice down because I can’t I just I’m not allowed to talk about AI in the office because on the one hand, the school is just absolutely terrified by the effect it’s having on, you know, people using it for homework and stuff. But as soon as she saw the assistant, she was able to try just creating a three barges with it. She was just so excited because it just made her job incredibly easy. It gave her a great starting point. And, um, and it is. And it is a barrier to entry. I think it’s probably a barrier to entry that we didn’t, we didn’t quite realise how much, how much it was. I mean it used to be very paper based, didn’t it? And that really relied on people’s expertise, subject expertise. And another conversation we had this week was with someone running a tech program and again they were using the assistant and, and the skills tags that it brought back actually made them realise that they’d missed out one of the skills in the module. So it’s actually sort of helping in terms of curriculum design at the same time. So I mean we’re still learning at the moment and still experimenting with the tools and it’s still an experimental feature, but you can see that it’s another, it’s a sort of next stage in putting this technology in people’s hands and kind of democratising the technology, which is which is really exciting. And I suppose the other thing is the I mean, it’s such interesting conditions I think, for Open Badges at the moment, because firstly there’s the adoption is starting to take up again and and it’s so much easier to have a conversation with somebody if they can go away and Google digital badges or Open Badges, and there’s actually something on the Internet and lots of good case studies which aren’t you as well. So that’s really helpful. And then there’s the technology side around AI, but also big data as well. So we use the like skills taxonomy, which is a big data technology which creates a skills standard which is based on actual job results. And it’s a dynamic standard which is changing over time and it’s open, open to access as well. And but just that actually, rather than relying on an individual to create those skills tags in the way that they think it will link to a job, it does actually provide that that way of connecting to those opportunities. And the other thing, which I think is quite interesting at the moment is that there’s just lots of skill shortages in the economy for various different reasons, and you’ve got an ageing population and Brexit which hasn’t helped. And so actually it’s quite interesting though, because employers and local authorities and others are quite open at the moment to trying new things because there’s a there’s a real problem in front of them across all sectors actually. And, you know, and technology is moving on. So the curriculum is having to adapt. So there’s just some really interesting conditions for innovation and a kind of next wave of adoption will be, well.

Laura Hilliger: [00:31:06] See, I was earlier when Omid was talking about there’s no point in reinventing the wheel and talking about technology. As a as a technologist, as an engineer, you don’t often start from scratch. You find things that other engineers have done and you remix them, You pull them together in new ways. And I think with the, you know, with the latest AI hype cycle, what seems to be missing from the conversation is that it is just a starting point, these tools. And I think it’s really interesting how like the the idea that if we can help people understand that the starting point is really just so you don’t have to start from scratch, but you still have to interact with the output and particularly around badges. I mean, you know, Tim, I believe you designed the badge canvas a thousand years ago.

Tim Riches: [00:32:01] I think yeah, it was it was a collaborative effort.

Laura Hilliger: [00:32:03] Yeah, right. It was a digital me badge canvas, if I remember correctly. Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. And that is that’s also not a blank piece of paper. Right. It is a, you know, helping people to think through the description, the criteria, the skills, the objectives of the badge and think through the metadata in a way that has design constraints. And for me, that’s what you know, that’s what AI is doing. Ai is helping us to put design constraints around a particular prompt. And so for, you know, particularly for badging, because we can badge anything and because there’s value in badging, everything from social behaviours to, you know, some of the really typical things like course completion or particular kinds of skills. Having that those design constraints built into the system seems like just a way to, you know, springboard to get past the, the piece of badging. That’s hard. For people, which is the conceptual piece and into actually recognising the skills that need to be recognised.

Tim Riches: [00:33:07] Yeah, no, absolutely. And I do think it’s worth reinforcing the point. I think it’s there is the need for human intervention as well. None of the badges that come back from the AI system have been absolutely complete. They’ve all needed tweaking even to do with sort of language and Americanisms as well that need adjusting for the UK, you know, but also the criteria, obviously the descriptions need building out, but it’s a much easier it’s a nicer job to do, isn’t it, when someone gives you a starting point and then you just start editing and, and honing that. So yeah, it’s absolutely right.

Doug Belshaw: [00:33:45] So it’s. It’s, um. How long has Navigatr been going now? I know the AI stuff is is quite recent, but Navigatr itself, you talked about, you know, the different iterations and we haven’t talked about cities of learning and stuff yet, but how long has Navigatr been been going now?

Tim Riches: [00:34:02] 2019 And we launched the first prototype during the, the second pandemic. So that’s that’s one February 3rd platform launches. We coincide with a with a pandemic.

Doug Belshaw: [00:34:16] Don’t make any more platforms Tim.

Tim Riches: [00:34:18] We’ve got two more in between.

Doug Belshaw: [00:34:20] Okay But um in terms of like so in terms of what success looks like, I guess that’s changed as your platforms, as you’ve built new platforms and developed and your thinking’s changed and stuff. But what does success look like for Navigatr now? Are there things you can point to where you’re like, This is this is definitely a case of where Navigatr and the badges we’ve issued and the process we’ve been through has helped people, organisations, groups, whatever. Can you point to some of those?

Tim Riches: [00:34:52] Yeah, I mean, just one really interesting case study at the moment I think is from the Manchester Group of Colleges, which is the work is the work is sort of led by LTE in Manchester. And I think what they’re doing is absolutely fascinating. It’s a college, a group of colleges that have gone out and spoken to employers and they’ve gone out and designed digital badges, which basically sort of map to the labour market. So if you think of a college, a challenge for them is the labour market is moving really quickly and you’ve got green skills coming in, digital skills and the qualifications are just not matching up with the skills that they need to recognise. And so they’ve worked alongside, they’ve done this thing. A good example with a drone surveying badge, which is there’s a huge demand for people who can fly drones and they can map buildings, apparently do it sort of 80% faster than doing it in person. So it’s created this drone surveying badge and then it’s endorsed by the local employer. And then they’ve launched that now and they’re just about to connect that with the live jobs feed. So I just think that’s really interesting in terms of innovation because it’s innovating the kind of qualification really. And the qualification bodies will do qualifications around construction but not around those specialised skills. So that’s a really exciting one. Just in terms of innovation and disruption, I think at the moment.

Doug Belshaw: [00:36:29] Just pick apart a couple of things that you said there then. So you mentioned the live jobs feed. I don’t think we’ve talked about that. We’ve talked about connecting badges and people with jobs, but what’s the live jobs feed?

Tim Riches: [00:36:40] Yeah. So the the live so the live jobs feed essentially connects the data. It connects people to jobs that have badges. So if you have badges and you’re following a badging pathway like that drone surveyor pathway that I’ve just just mentioned, then that will show you jobs that are in the local area. Or you could look nationally for those jobs opportunities as well. And I’m just thinking back slightly, back to the earlier days of badges, I remember pitching it to a group of sort of people in their late 20s in Leeds, and they they were interested in the concept of badges. But what they really wanted to know, would it actually get them work, you know, because they didn’t want to go back into formal education. They wanted to they wanted to have a sort of help them start a job or help them get back into work. And and I think this sort of meets that problem potentially. So you get your credential, you follow a pathway, and then it will show you the jobs feed and then you can get directly to a job opportunity locally.

Doug Belshaw: [00:37:46] And just the other thing to kind of dive into, which I think is obvious for you and me and everyone on this call, but maybe not for people listening, is I think what you said, that there’s a construction qualification that they’re all doing, but this allows them to react to kind of specific labour market conditions around where they are in Manchester or whatever and create badges which maybe differentiate them from other. Yeah.

Tim Riches: [00:38:15] So in this case, so in the case of these badges, it’s a bit of a mixture, but they are, it’s not necessarily the additionality around the qualification. It’s if you, let’s say you had some experience in construction, you could be, you know, there was maybe there weren’t demands for your particular job in that in that area. This just allows you to reskill very, very quickly and get into another sector. And or even if you’re someone just entering the workforce as well, you could do this credential. So it’s kind of there’s two things happening in parallel. One is, which is the additionality and the pathways towards qualifications. As you say. And then the other is just actually almost alternatives to qualifications, which is just really fascinating. I think.

Laura Hilliger: [00:39:01] I think it also I mean, the drone example on a construction site is really interesting because I think there the the the mash up of varying interests in a person. So somebody who’s really good at tech needs a needs a job flying a drone over a construction site, it’s not something you would immediately go to if you’re a technologist, for example, or you know, the other way around if you’re quite interested in building. And actually that was the same way around. But if you’re interested in tech, but you’re a builder and you want to expand your skills and and be able to have just a more diverse life experience, it sounds like being able to to kind of pick these different places and have it directly related to where you are in the world is actually a really. It’s interesting from a personal development perspective as well as, you know, getting a job perspective because nobody wants to be bored at work either.

Doug Belshaw: [00:40:00] It’s the overlaps, which is interesting. And I feel like we’re we’re going to have to get Tim and Omid back on to the podcast because I’ve got lots more questions and other things that I want to dive into. But we keep these episodes relatively short. So I think the last couple of questions may be to ask and we can go in any order, but Omid like what’s next for Navigatr in terms of features once you can tell us about it anyway? Um, and also, Tim, like for you, what’s the how do you see the future of learning and skills recognition? Like how is that evolving so far and where do you feel like it’s going next? Who wants to go first?

Omid Mufeed: [00:40:45] If I can go first. And yeah, so for for Navigatr, the way that the, the way that I see it is Navigatr is. Can be the go to destination for for any person who is looking for a who is looking to change their lives, either to get into a job or to a course, or just improve their wellbeing. It has the potential to do that. And as you mentioned earlier with the skills skills is the common thread that goes through all of the journey of a person starting and their journey into into a job and all the way to progressing into different jobs and and the tools that we have. We talked about the badges pathways linked to job fit. They all are things that connect together. And we are working on on on a recommendation engine that will that will take that will bring a big level of a huge level of personalisation to that whole journey and end to beginning, beginning to end. And so that is that is the next the that’s the next set of features that we are working on. And the end goal we want to get to is so we we have technologies that tell us what to buy next or what to watch next. Why can’t we have the technologies that tell us what that tell us what to learn next to change our lives?

Doug Belshaw: [00:42:15] That’s exciting. That’s very exciting, Tim?

Tim Riches: [00:42:23] Yeah, I suppose the vision for Navigatr, is it would be. It’d be great if you could just kind of switch the app on wherever you were. And like you were saying Laura, before, if you could find something, feel a little bit of data into it or have data which connected from other apps, from LinkedIn, from your social profiles, and it could start to show you things which just got you interested first and got you engaged in learning and then started to open up opportunities for work. Because you’re right, you, you know, we don’t want to just start with the just have the work angle, You know, you want to do work that sort of satisfies you and is aligned with your values and just wants you to get out of bed in the morning and gets you motivated and gets you going. And in terms of where next for the platform, the ideas are always further ahead than the tech, aren’t they? But the we, we’d like to apply more AI to the profile and to a kind of career coach idea. So it’s something that’s always around to sort of help you make connections between some of your skills and interests and, you know, careers you just might not have even dreamt of going or thought of going for and sort of looking forward. And I’m quite interested in this idea of closing the gap between skills and work. And what I mean by that is just let’s say I saw a sort of prototype of an approach like this that at Mozilla festival once, but let’s say you went on to GitHub and you were able to sort of log in somehow with your badges and your credentials and just you are qualified for the work immediately so you don’t have to go through an interview process. You kind of just take the bias out completely and you can actually just do the job. So you just log in, you’ve got your credentials, you can do the work, and then perhaps one step forward from that would be able to sort of get paid maybe through a kind of interledger type model so you can actually actually get paid for the work directly or via that credential or LinkedIn with another payment method. And then I’m also interested in sort of personalisation as well of the web. So as you travel around the web, you know, let’s say you’re interested in music production and you landed on Amazon and you’re able to see things that were related to that, or you’re able to connect with other people based on on your skills as well and your interests. So I don’t know, lots of lots of ideas and potential and for the future, I think.

Laura Hilliger: [00:44:57] Well, I can tell that both of you are full of ideas, so I’m not at all surprised that this is either the sixth or the eighth software platform endeavour that you two have gone on together. Um, really interesting conversation. I think Doug’s right. Um, lots more questions, but for now, thank you so much.

Doug Belshaw: [00:45:18] Yes, thank you. And I think when you come back on which we’d love to get you in, maybe, maybe next year, um, in 2024, we could talk about verifiable credentials because some of the stuff you were talking about there, Tim, sounds like very much the kind of realm of, of VCs, not the kind of people who give you money, but the ones that are going to do stuff.

Tim Riches: [00:45:39] Well, that sounds great. Yeah. And thanks again. It’s good. It’s a good conversation. It’s good to see you again, Doug and Laura. That’s great.

Doug Belshaw: [00:45:46] Likewise. Cheers Omid, cheers Tim!