11 Sep 2019

The Apprenticeship Chatbot

Unionlearn have recently launched a chatbot for apprenticeships on their website. I’ve been working with unionlearn to help develop this chatbot that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to answer a wide range of questions on apprenticeships.

Messaging apps like What’s App and Facebook Messenger have been part of a huge growth in the use of text messaging. In 2016, messaging apps became more popular than their social media equivalents.  As a result, people are increasingly contacting organisations via these messaging apps. This had contributed to huge growth in chatbots that help automate as much of this as possible.

For the apprenticeship chatbot I’ve used Google’s Dialoflow AI platform. This is one of the leading platforms for automated interactions, and can be integrated with Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Slack, Twitter and many more. To integrate it effectively with a website, some additional steps are needed to get an effective chat interface embedded.

The chatbot is ‘taught’ by feeding it with typical queries (called ‘intents’) and the associated answers. By providing lots of examples of how questions could be asked, the software ‘learns’ through a technique called Natural Language Processing (NLP), making it better prepared to understand the variations in language people use.

We’ve also programmed the chatbot to provide related links and suggest follow on questions when relevant, helping guide users to the huge amount of apprenticeship resources now available on the unionlearn website following the launch of their Apprenticeship Essentials software.

For example, ask the chatbot how much you can earn, and along with the answer, it provides suggested follow on questions on the minimum wage and paid holidays. There are also links to resources such as the Apprenticeship Pay Calculator.

This is one of the first chatbot systems deployed in the union movement, but it won’t be the last. I’ve spoken to some unions who are growing more interested in deploying chatbots for areas like help with online joining, dealing with IT queries from union branches and to provide employer/sector specific information to members and prospective members.

To try it out, visit the unionlearn website at

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