Today NEC and Persol Career, one of Japan’s largest human resource (HR) companies, announced their blockchain-based direct recruitment service app. The Proof of Concept will target Indian IT engineers for Japanese companies such as GMO Internet and Wired Beans. Depending on the initial stage results, the service may be extended to attract other overseas candidates.
Part of the app’s purpose is to tackle the shortage of IT HR in Japan. According to Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, the skills gap could amount to 800,000 people by 2020.
NEC is the technology provider and the primary blockchain use is for blockchain-based self sovereign identity.
The service involves the IT engineer taking a skill test and the test provider will automatically send the results to the app. The app will contain this test certificate alongside other relevant data, including the engineer’s personal information, work experience, and academic qualification. The resume information, stripped of personal data, is sent via the app to an information-sharing platform, where the recruitment company can browse the data and scout their targeted candidate. At this stage, the recruiter does not have access to data or credentials that could identify the individual. They’ll only receive this after the scouting process, with the consent of the job seeker.
The technology behind the service is based on the self-sovereign identity (SSI) concept. SSI has three key features: security of the identity information, user control over who has access and can view their data, and portability of the user data. The last category is important in that the user’s data must be capable of being used whenever the user wishes, and it should not be ‘tied to a single provider.’
The data can be sent from the user, who maintains total control over the data, directly to the desired person in a secure and private manner. Users can also choose only to share a part of their data, as NEC and Persol’s app specified – they do not have to share personal information in the initial stage if they do not wish to.
Given that the user sends the data, it’s up to the receiver to determine its credibility. However, in the case of NEC and Persol’s app, trust in the credentials is supported by the skill test provider.
Blockchain is not necessarily used in conjunction with SSI. Depending on the implementation, it’s often used sparingly as the users’ credentials are not saved on the blockchain. SSI mainly uses blockchain to verify that the issuer provided the credentials by cross-checking the signature on the credential with the public key on the blockchain. In this case the testing provider’s signature would be checked.
NEC has experimented with blockchain identity platforms before, developing its Digital Identity for Inclusion Project with NGO Bitcoin Argentina and IDB Lab in Argentina last year. The Project aimed to improve government access to residents of Barrio 31, one of Argentina’s largest slums. Its role in the recruitment service app is to develop the app and platform and to provide and operate the direct recruiting service.
Persol, the HR company whose motto is ‘Work, and Smile,’ has an existing interest in technology innovation. In August 2019, Persol invested in talent and assessment, a consulting business that uses employment interview services based on artificial intelligence. In its last financial year, Persol Holdings had revenues of 970.6 billion yen ($9.1 billion). Despite COVID-19, in the quarter ending June, its revenues were marginally up. Persol’s role in the partnership with NEC is to provide the necessary knowledge to direct the service and select the recruitment companies.
Meanwhile, credentials are a popular blockchain application with numerous initiatives. One of the highest profile projects in the recruitment sector is from the World Employment Confederation with a blockchain initiative involving The Adecco Group, GiGroup, Kelly Services, ManpowerGroup, Randstad, and RGF Staffing. Another is the Velocity Network, which includes Cornerstone, Upwork, SAP and others.