February 13, 2024
At a Glance
JFF’s virtual reality framework identifies jobs that present highest-impact use cases for VR in worker training.
Amid the excitement surrounding virtual reality (VR) technology, distinguishing the signal from the noise can be challenging. VR has the potential to revolutionize worker training and play a significant role in breaking down systemic barriers that hinder the progress of millions of workers. To achieve this, Jobs for the Future (JFF), with the support of Meta, developed an action framework to help business owners, industry leaders, and policymakers identify impactful use cases for introducing VR technology in worker training.
The Need for VR in Training
JFF’s North Star goal is that in 10 years, 75 million people facing systemic barriers to advancement will work in quality jobs. VR technology holds the potential to play a pivotal role in achieving this goal by offering workers the opportunity to learn more quickly and deeply within the context of a labor market where the half-life of skills is now estimated to be just two and a half years.
Workers who receive VR training learn four times faster than their classroom-based counterparts and are 35% more confident in applying their learned skills. Moreover, VR training can reduce personal biases by allowing individuals to see the world from different perspectives, fostering empathy and understanding.
VR Training Framework: Scoring the Potential of VR in Worker Training
VR represents one form of extended reality (XR) technologies, which also include augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR). We chose to focus the framework on VR because of its maturity as a technology and its potential to provide highly effective training.
JFF’s VR Training Framework is intended to help business owners, industry leaders, and policymakers operationalize and apply the work of VR researchers to determine which jobs are most suited to the introduction of VR technology. Using a simple five-point scoring system, the framework identifies the occupations where VR training has the greatest potential for impact. The higher the score, the greater the potential for VR to improve training in terms of speed, efficacy, equity, and cost.
VR training offers teachers the opportunity to increase their skill navigating complex and delicate interpersonal interactions. That is not much of an issue for wind turbine technicians, but they do encounter all of the other safety and complexity elements defined in our framework, making the occupation an excellent opportunity for applying VR training.
It should be noted that lower scores do not necessarily indicate that VR technology would not improve training. VR may just not have as wide-reaching an impact for lower–scoring occupations. For example, Corporate Cleaning, a small professional cleaning business in Columbus, Ohio, implemented VR training to help address challenges with employee recruitment, training, and career advancement. Through VR training, the firm has increased employee engagement and improved relationships with workers and workers’ accountability, allowing management to grow the business and create new jobs.
Equitable Implementation of VR
While VR technology can enhance equity in worker training, it’s vital to consider equitable implementation. We encourage leaders to thoughtfully consider the equity implications of their VR implementation, including:
- Access: Evaluate your employees’ access to hardware, software, and connectivity and address any gaps to ensure that all employees are able to benefit from VR training.
- Bias: When selecting a VR tool, look for simulations that include people who are representative of the larger public to better prepare your workers to serve all customers. Some simulations provide learners feedback on trends in their responses to different people or even offer the opportunity to take the perspective of other people, which can help to mitigate bias.
VR has the potential to revolutionize worker training across various industries, improving speed, efficacy, equity, and cost. By applying JFF’s framework and focusing on high-value use cases, businesses and policymakers can harness the power of VR to prepare more Americans for high-quality jobs, breaking down systemic barriers and fostering a brighter future for all workers.
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