Workforce Boards Empower Students and Job Seekers with VR Simulations

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For countless job seekers, the first steps on a new pathway to prosperity begin in their local workforce development boards. Hard-working teams across the country are tasked with guiding their neighbors on the next phase of their career journeys. This guidance can take the form of workshops and one-on-one sessions, but there’s also a huge opportunity to touch lives with technology. 

By implementing Transfr simulations alongside an array of wraparound support services, professionals in Alabama, West Virginia, and Texas are helping more people identify the right roles for them and begin training for well-paying jobs in high-growth industries. 

West Alabama Works leverages VR training for kids and adults

In Alabama, students and job seekers can thank West Alabama Works (WAW) for guiding them to new career pathways starting with Career Exploration, through training and into job placements throughout the state. Since February of 2021, WAW has been leveraging VR simulations from Transfr to help broaden the career horizons of countless students and adults alike. 

“Alabama is building a highly skilled workforce,” Alabama State Superintendent of Education, Eric Mackey, EdD said when announcing the Transfr-WAW partnership.

Building that workforce starts in school — middle school, specifically. High technology like VR from Transfr is one way to engage students and get them excited about learning and career exploration. Over a thousand students have used Transfr to learn more about their career options; it’s also driven increased interest in career and technical education (CTE) programs at the schools. 

“This program is creating 5-star recruits,” says Donny Jones, COO West Alabama Works. “Teachers are empowered and engaged, students are better qualified and ready for success on day one. Students with a higher academic achievement rate are being attracted to industry — creating leaders of the future — and more kids are staying in the community because of local, well-paying jobs.”

To learn more about WAW’s efforts, including partnering with Lockheed-Martin, read the full customer story here.

Texas workforce boards embrace VR career exploration

For many job seekers in Texas, a new career pathway starts in a local workforce development board. It’s also mandated by law that every Texan student have a career path in mind before entering high school. These students could benefit immensely from exposure to the wide array of job possibilities available. 

Luckily, immersive hands-on career exploration and training sims from Transfr are in the hands of workforce board teams across the state, helping this varied audience make more informed decisions about their career pathways. Best of all, the boards and job seekers can do this all without specialized equipment or access to expensive facilities which means they can train for a larger variety of jobs in a multitude of industries, filling more vacancies and giving learners more options. 

Transfr partners with 18 of 28 total workforce boards in Texas, covering over 80% of the state — with 4,800 youths and job seekers having completed over 6,300 career exploration simulations.

“Our experience with Transfr has been amazing!” says Samantha Smolik, Career and Education Outreach Team member at  WFS Coastal Bend. “Transfr is working with our board and has given us the opportunity to go out and do something with it and it’s been a tremendous success. Seeing people’s eyes light up — children and adults — never gets old! The simulations really do give you a well-rounded idea of what it’s like to work in that field.”

Get all the details on what the Lone Star State is doing to help students and adult job seekers with VR in this customer story.

Changing lives in West Virginia with VR skills training

Workforce Development Board Mid-Ohio Valley (WDB-MOV) is a team of dedicated professionals tasked with a huge challenge: Help job-seekers in nine counties find their unique pathways to prosperity. They do this with a multifaceted approach that includes counseling, VR career exploration and VR skills training with Transfr, and partnerships with local businesses and schools. It’s a robust, engaging program that seeks to drive interest in high-demand jobs.

“Our partnership with Transfr allows us to engage secondary students as well as adults, and share with them a vast variety of career opportunities. They’re able to explore their own pathways while leveraging relationships with the skilled trades,” says WDB-MOV executive director Bill Monterosso. “The individuals that we serve get hands-on reinforcement along with their virtual reality experiences. Everyone enjoys an improved ability to choose their path as opposed to settling when it comes to making career decisions. At the end of the day, this is a true economic development initiative.”

Since rolling out Transfr, WDB-MOV has helped almost 1,500 users who completed over 4,000 sims. The possibilities for this kind of career exploration and skills training in WDB-MOV’s territory are massive. The board has also secured a $1.49M ARC Power grant to take their workforce development efforts even further.

Cyndi Auth, Strategic Development Manager at WDB-MOV, is focused on improving access to simulated work experiences for all audiences, especially school-aged youth. She had this to say regarding a youth camp they ran over the summer:

“The camp was evidence that students are hungry for interactive instruction. By creating a multi-faceted approach to creating career awareness, students can see first hand the importance of math and science and how they directly relate to the world of work, a future that the students will soon find themselves in the midst of.”

Dig into WDB-MOV’s successes and newly awarded grant here!

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Katelyn Cutshall
Katelyn Cutshall
Katelyn Cutshall, VP of Economic Development and Government Affairs at Transfr, is on a mission to create a classroom-to-career pathways for job seekers by developing workforce ecosystems across the US. Katelyn has received the Economic Development Association of Alabama’s “Young Professional of the Year” award as well as Birmingham Business Journal‘s “Rising Leader in Education, Workforce Development” and “Top Future Leaders in Key Industries” awards.