Using Training and Certification to Promote Inclusion in the Tech Sector

A case study examining the Caveon, Zendesk, and KindWork partnership to publish a certification exam for a job training program aimed at promoting broader inclusion in the tech sector.

The What

Job Training Across the Digital Divide

Zendesk, the world’s number one helpdesk software, has partnered with the organization KindWork to create a job training program aimed at shrinking the “technology gap,” or “digital divide,” that still plagues lower-income communities of color in the United States and around the world.

Caveon Test Security has partnered with the program to craft a certification exam for the Zendesk/KindWork collaboration.

“As the #1 helpdesk software in the world, Zendesk recognizes its role in shaping economies and prides itself in helping to promote opportunity and equality in the tech sector.”

The Who

Zendesk, KindWork, and Caveon Collaborate

Founded in 2016, the Zendesk Tech for Good (T4G) program provides free software and expertise to non-profit organizations to address urgent social problems. This job training and certification arm of Zendesk T4G aims to help create the next generation of working professionals in customer experience (CX).

KindWork is a 501(c)(3) organization working to promote inclusion while fostering economic stability for young adults from overlooked communities in New York City. KindWork students often earn less than $6,000 per year. Many haven’t had the opportunity to attain a college degree. Many have been out of work or have had spotty resumes, often as a result of their limited digital skills that have hindered their ability to secure jobs in the fast-changing tech sector.

As the recognized leader in the field, Caveon Test Security has driven the discussion and practice of exam security in the testing industry since 2003. Offering comprehensive assessment services and innovative technology, the Caveon exam development team is aiding the project by developing a high-quality certification exam to assess candidates after training is complete.

The Why

Turning Inaccessible Job Markets Into Promising Opportunities

The young adults who join the program do not have equal access to resources and opportunities and therefore struggle to be noticed in a sea of candidates by tech companies. This is where Zendesk T4G and KindWork want to make a difference.

While this cohort is the first to take the Caveon-designed certification exam, previous program graduates have gained:

  • Job placements (over 90% find rewarding CX jobs, and often for Zendesk customers).
  • One year (52+ hours) of career coaching, including mock interviews and LinkedIn reviews.
  • An average wage increase of 270% upon initial placement.

The hope for this program is to create a ripple effect throughout the industry. As program graduates progress in their careers, perhaps eventually they’ll build their own teams and open doors that previously may not have been open for them.

What’s more, tech companies that opt to hire program graduates will gain staff that are as diverse as their customer base, enabling them to deliver the best possible customer experience.


Sourcing and Selecting Candidates

The partnership offers students a free 6-week (250-hour) training covering Zendesk’s industry-standard CX software, known as the Zendesk Support Suite, used by more than 100,000 businesses.

KindWork offers loaner laptops, upgraded internet connections, and quiet working spaces to its students, equipping them with the tools needed to launch a successful CX career.

To join the program, eligible students submit an application and take a writing assessment. The students then have a one-hour interview to discuss their experience and motivation.

Potential candidates come from a few different sources. Local non-profits and community organizations refer unemployed and underemployed young adults to the program. Additionally, the program does some advertising on social media and welcomes a steady stream of past fellows (alumni) to apply.

Putting CX Job Training in Action

Zendesk's training curriculum

Zendesk sends KindWork their full agent training curriculum.

Zendesk lays groundwork for the simulation

Zendesk creates a fictional company “Shoes for All” and sets up all the support services, databases, and policies and procedures required to efficiently serve faux Zendesk customers.

KindWork tailors curriculum

KindWork understands how their students learn and tailors the curriculum to maximize its impact.

KindWork's Simulation for Students

In class, students learn to interact with customers, answer tickets, and troubleshoot real-life customer support issues.

The Zendesk Omnichannel Agent Certification Exam

At graduation, students take the Zendesk Omnichannel Agent Certification Exam that Caveon helped create to validate the students’ skills and expertise.


Where Do We Go From Here?

The Agent Certification co-created by Caveon is now integrated into all Zendesk training partners’ programs. It is the same as the exam any CX professional would take. This, ideally, places graduates at a higher tier when it comes to job placement.

Equity starts with equal access to resources, services, and opportunities.

Both Zendesk and KindWork are doing their part to help underrepresented groups from across the globe gain access to more opportunities for upwards mobility.

KindWork plans to increase the number of young adults they serve next year by 20%. While remaining in New York City, the organization plans to explore adding additional programming to support fellows interested in customer-facing careers like Sales.

Caveon is thrilled to have the opportunity to play a small part in this impactful initiative.

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