The past two years have thrown businesses into an upheaval—but the truth is we have needed to evolve the workforce long before the COVID-19 pandemic. With the advent of new technologies comes new opportunities to minimize more manual, tedious tasks—but it also brings the need to be a bit more tech-savvy than workers of the past. In other words, we need to reskill and upskill our workers.
At its core, upskilling is focusing on helping employees become more knowledgeable and develop new competencies that relate to their current position. Simply, it focuses on adding to an existing skill set within a role—such as leveraging a new piece of technology. In contrast, reskilling is when a worker moves into a new role in an organization and learns new skills to do an entirely different job.
Let’s look at one specific example for a minute: electrical construction. According to the U.S. BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), employment of electricians is projected to grow 7% from 2021 to 2031. At the same time, roughly 20% of electricians are expected to reach retirement age in the next decade. The bottomline is demand for electricians is expected to grow—and we need to be able to train and educate this workforce quickly.
Here’s what is kind of cool. We can leverage technology itself to address the skills shortage in construction. Consider the most recent example from Transfr, which offers a new package of simulations that leverage AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) to help organizations create pathways to careers in electrical construction, specifically. This is the latest addition to a series of fully immersive training modules that also includes automotive, aerospace, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and more.
In the case of electrical construction, the technology will help learn the foundational knowledge and skill to be equipped for apprenticeships and jobs in electrical construction. This approach guides trainees through hands-on skills sessions with the assistance of a digital coach that adapts to their performance, all in a fully immersive, 360-degree environment that is distraction-free and safe from many of the risks of traditional electrical construction learning.
The technology is being used in businesses. Consider the example of TRIO Electric, which is one example of a company that has been using simulations as part of their own workforce training programs. For this electrical design, construction, and service firm finding electrical instructors can be difficult and time consuming. The virtual simulations give real-world experience and practice before workers go out in the field.
The technology is also being used in high school and community colleges, where students looking for careers and apprenticeships in electrical construction can learn about workplace safety, material and tool recognition and usage, wall rough-in, overhead box installation, wire pulling, conduit bending, and other foundational skills required to become a trained, productive, and safe electrical worker.
At the end of the day, this is one example of how technology can help to address the construction skills shortage by using simulations to train workers. Certainly, this is only the beginning.
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