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VR becomes critical tool for tackling NZ skill shortages

02 Sep 2019
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The Ministry of Social Development is putting its weight behind Joy Business Academy (JBA) to boost virtual reality use in industry training – particularly in construction.

The partnership will allow trainees to use Oculus Quest virtual reality headsets to work with instructors or assessors, no matter where they are in the world.

Construction firms Fletcher and Downer are also backing the initiative – but it’s not just limited to construction, it can be used for any industry with skills shortages such as traffic control and health and safety.

The VR training system reduced four days of training into 45 minutes, according to JBA.

JBA says the technology can train and upskill anyone, anywhere. No matter where people live, students will be able to experience different professions in order to make an informed decision about their future careers.

JBA also believes this will also democratise the education sector and tap into skills and interests comment in Generation Y and Generation Z.

The technology could also curb the high costs associated with training centres and eliminates unnecessary physical risk.

JBA’s James Coddington explains says a future with virtual reality is well and truly here – and it’s about to become the future of education and training worldwide.

He outlines that JBA’s efforts with virtual reality are a world-first with untethered headsets.

Jobseeker benefits include being better enabled to make an informed decision about which career they’ll be best suited to and most enjoy; and to be able to train/upskill in a safe, efficient way wherever they live.

Employer benefits include being better enabled to attract the right type of worker into areas with skills shortages; and workers will arrive on the job already having had some skills training and also better understanding key employability skills, such as teamwork, problem-solving, time management, and health & safety.

JBA outlines some of virtual reality’s benefits:

“Full immersion: no other medium can give users the feeling of ‘being there’ better than VR. With VR there are no distractions – the experience fully captures learners’ attention and in doing so boosts their retention of information.

Different world: VR transports learners to a different world, and it allows them to do something that might be too dangerous, too expensive, or too difficult to repeat in real life. In the process earners will develop physical memory and retain new information through the repetition of practical skills.

Powerful medium: VR training has a huge advantage over other training methods as it allows learners to interact with a spatial representation of the information they’re receiving. Instead of just reading about an experience, learners can live that experience in a controlled environment. This makes it incredibly effective as we remember 90% or what we do compared with just 10% of what we read.

Through simulation, interaction, and immersion, VR can challenge our understanding of the world and make us more empathetic.”