Virtual reality training takes off

Successful pilots lead national series of VR-based expos for job seekers and skills-hungry sectors.

Skills VR and the Ministry of Social Development are holding VR Job Expos at events around the motu following a successful pilot.

The organisations’ virtual reality training tool allows people to experience immersive learning – offering them the chance to experience real-world working environments safely.

The VR tool is designed to give people a flavour of the work available, simulate actual tasks, and deliver industry training and accreditation. Job seekers who complete training modules at an expo receive credentials to add to their CV right then and there.

Research on VR soft skills training found it results in better learning outcomes. VR training is also more efficient, more cost effective and more inclusive than traditional classroom learning.

Because it caters to a wide variety of learning styles it can be effective for people who learn by doing or who may have difficulties with literacy.

The recent pilot expos were proof of both concept and demand, with 669 people participating in five VR Jobs Expo events in Auckland, Wellington, Whangarei, Tauranga and Nelson. A total of 1,465 VR training sessions were completed, averaging 45 minutes and two different learning modules in the headset per user. What’s more, there were immediate connections: While they were at the expos, 75% of job seekers engaged with employers and recruiters.

Amanda Nicolle, director of industry partnerships at MSD, says, “The Ministry of Social Development is committed to modernising training to help people get work-ready, matching peoples’ skills to the current needs of New Zealand industries. These expos are designed to ensure job seekers get the training they need to build the skills to get into, or return to, the workforce.

“We know that traditional learning methods don’t work for everyone. The feedback from our events has been that the ability to ‘do the doing’ and the instant feedback really suits some job seekers’ learning style.

“Aotearoa is enjoying a record low unemployment rate but has high demand for support to build the skills and confidence of job seekers as they train for the first time or retrain from other industries, and then to bridge them into the workforce with opportunities to progress over time,” James Coddington, CEO of Skills VR, says.

“There are several complementary mega-trends emerging – many of these Kiwis are digital natives who can benefit from tech-based training and education opportunities, while industries are increasingly transitioning to a digital focus where workers have multiple complementary and transferable skills, and workforces are flexible and spread across many locations.”

Over the coming months, digital education and training innovator Skills VR and MSD are hosting an expanded calendar of virtual reality expos throughout Aotearoa for employers and for those looking to launch, grow, or change careers. These family-friendly expos will be held in 13 regions across the country each quarter.

Some upcoming expos include:

• Canterbury Industry Partnership Fair – September 13

• Hamilton VR Job Expo at Hamilton Gardens –September 22-23

• Spring into Work at Whakatane War Memorial Hall – October 4

• VR Job Expo at Hub West (Auckland) – October 5

• VR Job Expo (Christchurch) – October 18

• Spring into Work (Tauranga) – October 20

• VR Job Expo (Stoke, Nelson) –November 1-2

• VR Job Expo at Mt Smart Stadium (Auckland) – November 11

• VR Job Expo at Manukau Job and Skills Hub (Auckland) – November 23

• Southern Work Broker Meeting at St Clair Golf Club (Dunedin) – December 6-7

• VR Job Expo at Ara (Christchurch) – April 4, 2023

• VR Job Expo at Manukau Jobs and Skills Hub (Auckland) – June 21, 2023

The Skills VR modules include training for the SiteSafe Foundation Passport for civil and construction industries; water careers; conflict resolution; food safety processes and Hygiene for primary industries; health and safety qualifications for multiple industries; tourism and

hospitality – job experiences; prefabrication; traffic management, excavator and kiwifruit vine pruning.

Anyone is welcome to attend any expo, including employers who want to access talent or learn more about incorporating VR training into their business or training programmes.