Top 5 Skilled Construction Trades where VR can be useful
Here are our top 5 skilled construction trades
Construction is the backbone of the Canadian economy. As per the latest report, it employs 1.4 million people in Canada and generates about $141 billion for the economy annually, accounting for 7.5 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP). However, since the beginning of the pandemic, recruitment and training in the construction industry has been moving at a snail’s pace. According to another report, approximately 257,000 workers are expected to retire by 2029. This clearly indicates the need to hire young apprentices and train them faster than ever before. In this regard, here are the top 5 skilled construction trades where VR can expedite the training and learning process.
Although many carpentry vocational colleges rely heavily on traditional course materials to train their apprentices, new technology such as Virtual Reality is being researched as a potential tool to train students in carpentry skills. There are many advantages to using VR for woodworking. For example, creating multiple VR environments where learners can grasp foundational skills like how wood behaves with various handsaws. But most importantly no wood or other materials are wasted in the process.
Working at Height
Working at heights is one of the most challenging jobs to undertake. Undoubtedly, it is the responsibility of organizations to not only lay down the standard operating procedures to carry out the work, but also make sure to weigh in on the safety standards in the workplace. Many technical institutes have scaffolders to provide practical knowledge to new trainees and experienced supervisors, but they lack realistic experience. This is where VR can be beneficial, as it would help experts to demonstrate real life depth perception, which can help learners make judgements about the height and work accordingly.
The applications of VR in eLearning have generated a lot of interest in the engineering community. Just like any other trade, electrical involves aspiring engineers or professionals being familiar with many safety standards and procedures. In electrical these standards revolve around various circuit boards, wiring practices, and installation processes. According to the Electrical Safety Authority’s (ESA) Ontario Electrical Safety Report, more than 70 per cent of all electrical-related injuries occur in four specific areas:
- Powerline contact
- Electrical trade workers
- Misuse of electrical products and unapproved/counterfeit products
- Electrical infrastructure fires
It is therefore imperative to impart awareness to students on how to use various electrical equipment safely. With VR, trainers can replicate real-life situations to up-skill apprentices/employees without worrying about fatalities. Such experiential learning allows students to become proficient and confident learners, and prepares them for unpredictable situations in real life.
Fixing and installing pipes for proper water distribution can be a tricky thing, especially when it comes to industrial plumbing systems, which are more complicated than residential pipes. Although various trade institutes provide resources and materials for learning, such training lacks visualization.
This is where Virtual Reality can make a difference by allowing trainees to visualize the entire plumbing architecture; dismantle and assemble pipes. According to a study, VR content provides 33% more knowledge retention compared to 2D video.
Welding is one of the most important skilled construction trades in the world. Additionally, it is one of the most challenging jobs as it not only requires professionals to use their hands in a skillful manner, but also pay attention to minute details. For example, a welder needs to ensure he maintains the proper pace while brazing metals together.
While traditional welding techniques are important, they can be costly and risky. Virtual Reality, on the other hand, provides an eco-friendly way of training learners in a safe and secure environment. With the use of haptic gloves, trainees can get the real-life experience of how a welding gun reacts to metals. Additionally, they can be trained in what type of welding is used for different types of industries, such as automotive, aerospace, and architecture.
The need for VR in the construction skills trade
The employee-employer relationship has become increasingly important over the past few years. One of the leading roles of an employer is to attract & retain talent in the company when a few workers are available. For example, in the case of construction skills, baby boomers, born between 1946-1965, have played a pivotal role as they have acquired necessary skills through decades of hands-on experience. However, as they are nearing their retirement age, it is essential to attract the next workforce, namely Gen Y and Gen Z, who seem to have veered further and further away from skilled trades. To overcome this hurdle, VR can play a significant role.
Many companies are using VR at various job expos to highlight the appeal of trades jobs and the use of immersive technologies for training purposes. A recent survey conducted by Dell Technologies revealed that 91% of Gen Z survey participants said the technology offered by an employer would influence their job choice. Similarly, the use of VR across colleges and universities can attract new talents and train them faster.
Enhancing learning through simulations
The employee-employer relation has become increasingly important over the past few years. One of the leading roles of an employer is to attract & retain talent in the company when a few workers are available. For example, in the case of construction skills, baby boomers, born between 1946-1965, have played a pivotal role as they have acquired necessary skills through decades of hands-on experience. However, as they are nearing their retirement age, it is essential to attract the next workforce, namely Gen Y and Gen Z, who seem to have veered further and further away from skilled trades. To overcome this hurdle, VR can play a significant role.
Why a simulation works best for learners
Simulation by nature is a form of experiential learning, which means that learners learn through experience rather than knowledge obtained through reading books or watching a video. This theoretical model was published by educational theorist David A. Kolb in 1984. According to this theory, learners go through four phases of experiences:
- Concrete Experience:
Here a learner experiences a new module or the existing one in a new way. For example, traveling inside a tree to see how wood goes from root to production to being installed in a house.
- Reflective Observation:
In the second phase, a learner shares his personal experience and draws an observation and conclusion.
- Abstract Conceptualization:
In the third phase, a learner is motivated to answer ‘‘what is there to know?’’
- Active Experimentation
Finally, the learner applies the new knowledge to practice.