Transfr’s XR Futures saw instructors and experts from a variety of organizations take the stage to delve into how they’re shaping the workforce of tomorrow. In panel after panel, these dedicated educators and other leaders took our audience through their programs, their successes, and their visions for the future.
“We’re on a mission to help people from diverse pools of undiscovered talent,” said Transfr founder and CEO Bharani Rajakumar. “Find their unique pathways into well-paying careers with upward mobility.”
The guests at XR Futures share that mission. Educators and industry experts discussed the shift towards training programs outside the four-year path, how workforce boards are using VR, and the types of comprehensive support programs that help people succeed after incarceration.
Education and industry partners tout non-degree careers
Here at Transfr, we’re always talking about helping people find their unique pathways to a better future — often times without a four-year college degree. More and more organizations are seeing the value in this approach and we brought on a panel of educators and industry partners to discuss how attitudes towards the four-year college degrees are changing and the role of technology in building the workforce of the future.
Atlanta-based Georgia Power is leading the way in developing the non-degree workforce by leveraging Transfr’s innovative career exploration simulations. They’ve helped 1,500 participants explore 3,000+ simulations, giving them insights into countless career paths. They also collaborated with Transfr on the Lineworker career exploration sim, ensuring that it would accurately reflect a day in the life of that role.
“Kids are really excited to get their hands on the VR headsets and explore all the different career options out there,” said Jamal Jessie, a workforce development manager with Georgia Power. “We also worked with the Transfr team to build a highly accurate Lineworker simulation to give students a look at what it’s like to do this job.”
Another well-paying job outside the four-year track that many students and job seekers might not be considering is boat building. Brian Bigelow, a marine manufacturing instructor at Arkansas State University, Mountain Home, leverages existing Transfr VR sims to teach essential manufacturing skills. Simulations give students the repetitions they need to master techniques they’ll use in the workplace and also augment Brian’s bandwidth as a teacher:
“Using VR in the classroom is such a game changer for me,” says Brian. “I can have a couple students using our in-class paint booth and equipment and the rest can be in headsets, practicing in the virtual environment.”
Brian was floored by the detail in previous Transfr simulations. He’s also collaborated with designers who are leveraging Transfr’s advanced SDK to build new industry-leading boat-building sims that will provide even more valuable training and job opportunities in this field.
“It’s amazing the level of detail they’ve captured.” Brian says. “I’m intimately familiar with the manufacturing setting we modeled them after — you put on the headset, and it’s like you’re there.”
Workforce boards use cutting-edge sims to train for high-demand roles
For many people, the pathway towards a new role or career starts at a local workforce board. The hard-working teams at these offices are charged with helping job seekers of all kinds (recently unemployed, new-to-the-workforce, and students) find the right job to suit their skills and interests.
One state org that’s leading the way in building the workforce of the future is AIDT (Alabama Industrial Development Training). Their offices provide bespoke, no-cost training services designed to meet the needs of businesses and citizens across the state.
“My division is responsible for curriculum development and training,” explains Bobby John Drinkard, Assistant Director, Central Alabama at AIDT. “And virtual reality was one of the things that we wanted to focus on… We were looking for a customizable solution. We met with Bharani and the team and they were very amenable to what we wanted. They were very flexible and very willing to work with us instead of giving us something canned off the shelf.”
This tailored approach has supercharged the career journeys of over 1,350 individuals who’ve completed nearly 18,000 simulations — with over 1,000 securing careers with prestigious companies like Lockheed and Mercedes.
“There were hurdles that we had to overcome,” says Jacqueline Allen, Assistant Director, Communications & External Affairs at AIDT. “But once we got the Lockheed Martin pilot program going — and they had a diverse population work with it — that really helped to sell the use of VR. We were rocking and rolling after that point.”
Driving change for justice-impacted persons with VR and more
Justice systems around the USA and the world struggle with countless issues, chief among them recidivism and maintaining employment with people who have recently left incarceration. Building work skills and relevant experience is a vital component to helping justice-impacted people build new lives with upward mobility.
In Fort Wayne, Indiana, a network of local organizations (including the Boys&Girls Club Indiana Alliance and the Allen County Juvenile Center) have teamed up to offer services and support to justice-impacted individuals, helping them find something else that’s key to a successful life outside of incarceration: Hope.
The relationship with Transfr has been transformational for my organization,” says Joe Jordan, President and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Indiana. “Transfr has helped us expose kids to different career paths and help them figure out what pathway they want. It’s been totally transformative for us.”
Having a robust array of support services is vital to helping the previously incarcerated build new lives. Teamwork Englewood, a nonprofit on the south side of Chicago serving formerly incarcerated people, combined Transfr VR training with a suite of services, including bus cards and a stipend, to ensure the highest chance of success for program participants.
“We found that people were returning to their communities, getting jobs, and just walking off,” says Mark Mitchell, Associate Director of Teamwork Englewood. “With VR from Transfr, we’re able to give participants relevant skills and experience that has demonstrably improved their success in staying employed.”
Partners in success building a brighter future
Building tomorrow’s workforce is a tall order, but neither Transfr nor our rapidly-growing number of partners is going it alone. Every successful program is part of a vast network of groups and services — educators, workforce boards, community organizations, industry partners, and more — who join forces to help job seekers and students find the right careers for them and get on a pathway to upward mobility.
“Events like this serve as a powerful demonstration of the amazing work that Transfr clients across the country are doing,” said Bharani. “They’re also a reminder that none of us can do this all on our own. We need to work together, and that’s what we’re doing.”
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