The hybrid worker

The challenge: Develop innovative smart combinations of people and technology solutions so people overcome their physical or mental limitations and can get back to work.

Description of the problem

The Hague’s goal is to have as many people ‘participate’ in society as possible, preferably in a sustainable way and through paid jobs. This gives them a strong base and the feeling that they matter. Unfortunately, some people face certain difficulties, making it impossible to find work, or worse, isolating them. This is something we have to prevent.

Nowadays, there are a lot of innovative solutions and possibilities such as robotics and data science. We should be able to use those innovative solutions to tackle some of the ‘limitations’ people face or at least reduce them. Wouldn’t it be great if we could use technology to enable people to fully participate in society and join the labor market? Instead of asking organisations to adapt their work(place) for a specific person, we could use technology so that he or she is enabled to do the job.

In The Hague more than 25,000 people are dependent on social welfare. This costs about €15.000 per person per year. On the other hand, there is a huge need for skilled people in specific sectors. We are convinced that some people on social welfare can work again when provided with the right tools. Take for example people that have visual or hearing limitations. If we can take away these limitations we increase their chances to be hired significantly.

Similarly, there is a lot of potential for physically demanding professions. People with such professions might have had to stop working due to the wear and tear of their joints. If we develop a tool that reduces the burden on their body, they might be able to work again. As a result of these technological measures, we can provide sectors like construction and health with an increased level of skilled employees. This benefits employees, the work sectors and society as a whole!

What are we looking for?

We want a technological solution for a test group that helps people overcome their limitations so that they can (re-)enter the labor market.  Our idea is to have a test group with people that face visual or hearing limitations, or a group that used to do labor intensive work.

The municipality will make sure the startup connects with the target group, for example to validate and test their solution. The startup will also have access to the municipality’s extensive network of organizations in various sectors where ‘the hybrid employees’ could eventually start working.

What are we not looking for?

We are not looking for platforms that connect us to existing solutions or re-integration agencies, etc.

Background information

An example of what we are looking is the Exoskeleton. This is a kind of armor which helps lift heavy objects, reducing the burden on joints and muscles. As a result, people can exercise their profession much longer. Perhaps such an armor could be modified for (former) construction workers to lessen the burden on their body so that they can continue their profession.

Another example is the Shiva physiotherapist. This is a robot that supports physiotherapists with massaging patients. It is maybe possible to develop such a robot to help nurses, for example with turning or lifting patients out of bed.

Lastly, the OrCam-MyEye is a portable reading camera that can help overcome visual limitations. It recognizes printed text, products and faces. With this technology, someone might be able to practice his old profession again or have new opportunities in the labor market.