Workforce tech company 1Huddle and the New Jersey Reentry Corp. announced a partnership Aug. 11 to upskill, train and motivate formerly incarcerated individuals to reenter the workforce through the use of 1Huddle’s mobile games.
1Huddle will create customized interactive games for NJRC’s members that will help them to prepare for job interviews not only by helping them build the skills necessary to be successful in the job, but by educating them on the company at hand to wow the interviewer with knowledge on the employer.
1Huddle’s gaming system will also help NJRC’s participants with resume writing and how to research occupations that best suit their skill-sets.
The system will be available at all computers on NJRC’s eight reentry training sites, but is also available on mobile phones.
“A big anchor for our product was something anybody could do on the bus or on the train or on the go. In between shifts, you can get job training. The fact that it’s a game takes it to a whole different level because the experience doesn’t feel like learning, but learning is happening. They’re logging in and competing against others in games, and as you win a game, you unlock certain skills and certifications; and depending on the workplace you’re working with, it might unlock new pay scales,” explained Sam Caucci, founder and chief executive officer of Newark-based 1Huddle.
“Being in Newark has changed the way I look at what we do. You can’t be a workforce platform and not work with all workers,” he said.
COVID-19 layoffs have affected the formerly incarcerated more than other communities, explained New Jersey Reentry Corp. Chairman and former Gov. Jim McGreevey. In a recent meeting with NJRC participants, 40 percent of them had been laid off from their places of work.
“For our participants, traditionally they are last in and first out within the employment sector,” McGreevey said.
It’s always a struggle coming home from prison or jail to reenter the workforce, he explained, but the layoffs and reductions of COVID-19 have made it worse.
“One of the great strengths of 1Huddle is not only the interactive game itself but the numerous companies that they interact with. The goal of 1Huddle is it enhances interview preparation, time management, professionalism, and knowledge of the prospective companies. For a number of our participants, those who want to re-enter their lives and be gainfully employed, 1Huddle provides them with an opportunity that they may never have had in their lives. It almost serves as a classroom instructor that’s going to familiarize them with the company and the skills requires, but in an enjoyable and challenging manner,” McGreevey said.
NJRC has more than 8,000 participants, and each week more join the program.
At NJRC’s Bergen County reentry site, Site Director Jen Pena has already seen 1Huddle in action. Bergen County was the first NJRC site were 1Huddle was onboarded.
“Two weeks ago, we put [a participant] up with 1Huddle prepared them with the history of the Samsung warehouse [where they were applying], gave them questions about the company, questions on how to handle the warehouse structure, and things to do within the warehouse, and because the [participant was] prepared with the information for the interview, by three days later they had already obtained employment,” Pena said. “The interviewer was very impressed that he knew the history of the company, that he was prepared to know the warehouse needs, and it was because of 1Huddle that [he knew those things].”
With the success so far seen at the Bergen County site, 1Huddle will be put onto computers at NJRC’s remaining seven sites in Hudson, Essex, Passaic, Union, Middlesex, Monmouth, and Ocean counties.
“I’m excited, given the work so far to get the partnership up and off the ground, what NJRC is doing is so critical now more than ever – especially right now when we need to be reskilling workers not for jobs today but for jobs tomorrow that is rapidly catching up to us,” Caucci said. “This is more important to make sure nobody gets left behind, so we adapt to what work will look like in days to come.”