A new app designed to help blue-collar workers improve their reading and writing skills is one of three exciting innovations to be given an initial Expo 2020 grant for funding.

The app, called Smart Labour, rewards users who improve their reading and writing skills with vouchers for food and shopping and credit with telecomm providers.

The founder of Smart Labour, Abu Muadh, said there are 2.2 million blue-collar workers in the UAE and 16.5 million across the Middle East who have smartphones and could benefit from the app. Many cannot express themselves fully, he told The National, “which has a direct effect on their productivity, happiness and overall contribution to the economy,”

Users will also be able to report health and safety incidents at work with the app, which will receive a grant of up to US$100,000 from Expo 2020’s US$100 million Expo Live initiative fund.

“In this non-national population, around 42 per cent of the workers have below secondary school education and are employed as construction workers, clerks and salespeople,” said a Smart Labour statement. “Smart Labour is uniquely designed to reach out to this huge segment of the workforce to educate, empower and connect them to the country’s vision.”

Two other enterprises were among the first to receive Expo 2020 grants: the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) will develop farms to support agricultural production in desert climates, while Ver2 Digital Medicine provides online training for doctors in Africa.

Yousef Caires, vice-president of the Expo Live initiative, said the second round of funding applications is likely to open in September.

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