What role does VR training play in the growing labor market?

Will VR training be a necessity for companies today? With the job boom earlier this year, that seems to be the case.

The year 2023 has started well for the labor market. Based on the January 2023 jobs report, total nonfarm payrolls rose to 517,000, well above the Dow Jones estimate of 187,000 and December’s gain of 260,000. As of March 2023, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that the unemployment rate still remains stable at 3.5%, with widespread job growth, particularly in the leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and healthcare sectors.

While one report shows no trend, job growth and low unemployment rates are positive indicators of a strong market. To keep up with this growth, companies must implement solutions that streamline recruiting processes and enable faster onboarding.

According to David Chen, CTO and co-founder of a company that makes 3D cameras and depth sensors, Orbbec, VR training will be critical to the continued growth of the job market. We spoke to him about the role VR training will play in the growing job market and how companies can use this technology to their advantage.

The role of VR training in the growing job market

VR training has gained popularity in the business world as it can help new hires acquire skills quickly and efficiently. According to Chen, traditional training methods can be complex, with multi-step operations that are harder to remember and even dangerous in certain industries.

However, VR enables hands-on experiences that are safe and engaging. “VR enables hands-on experiences that do not endanger raw materials, equipment or personnel. Headsets and projectors give trainees real, immersive guidance on what to do and what not to do,” Chen told us in a written interview. “Unexpected scenarios can be presented at will, and since there is no additional cost for iterations, skills are learned faster.”

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In fact, a PwC study found that employee training can be up to four times faster using VR courses compared to traditional classroom training. What takes two hours in a classroom can be learned in 30 minutes with VR.

Chen continues that compared to other new training technologies like augmented reality and gamification, VR training offers a more holistic experience that combines hard and soft skills training. AR training may be a better fit for companies looking to deliver micro-training focused on a definable concept, idea, skill, object, or process. On the other hand, VR training places trainees in a fully digital world that allows for less impact on physical space when learning a new task.

For example, Honeywell has been using VR training for years to train plant operators and field technicians. Its VR training simulator, the Immersive Field Simulator, produced twice the skill retention of previous training methods, resulting in a more engaging training program for younger generations of workers. Over the past year, new features have been added to the simulator to meet a broader range of training and development needs.

Bank of America also launched a VR training program in 2021 to simulate customer interactions and practice routine tasks. The pilot program reported that 97% of employees who went through the simulations felt more comfortable performing their jobs afterwards. The VR program is now used by around 50,000 employees in almost 4,300 financial centers across the country.

These and other examples show that VR training has proven to be a valuable tool to help companies train new employees quickly and efficiently, minimize risks and increase skill retention.

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Challenges for companies when implementing VR training

Implementing VR training in companies is not without its challenges. According to Chen, content creation is one of the biggest challenges companies face when implementing the technology. “Some scenes can be very difficult to recreate in the virtual world, and not everything can be operated with a VR headset controller,” he explained.

Initial cost can be another obstacle that business leaders must overcome. A study by PwC shows that VR content requires up to 48% more initial investment than classroom or e-learning courses.

To address the challenges companies face when implementing VR training, Chen suggests companies consider the long-term benefits of the technology. You should also be aware of the advances in VR technology that have made them more affordable than before. In this way, companies can improve their training processes, save time and resources and achieve a higher ROI.

How companies can implement VR training

To successfully implement VR training, companies should consider starting with a pilot program and choosing a platform with features tailored to their specific needs. “Testing VR training in small groups can help determine which jobs can best be enhanced through the use of VR and how these programs may need to be modified to meet the specific needs of participants,” Chen said.

As a manufacturer of 3D cameras, Orbbec offers necessary solutions that support VR training programs.

3D camera technology helps capture the real environment and quickly translates it into VR content, allowing for a more realistic training experience without the need for a controller. By using such solutions, companies can streamline their training processes and provide their employees with a more effective and engaging learning experience.

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In fact, the future of VR training looks bright, with new applications and use cases expected to emerge in various industries, and continuous advances in computing power, rendering engines, and display technologies.