Using Augmented and Virtual Reality to Attract the Millennial Workforce
A rapidly aging population and workforce can create a skills gap if there are not enough new hires to backfill open positions. Pretend you are 24 years old. You have grown up and received an education in a world defined by technology such as smartphones and tablets. You might have even used this same technology during your education. How might a nuclear power facility built more than 50 years ago appeal to a prospective job candidate like this? How would a trucking company attract a millennial to join a firm that is reliant on paper documentation, technical manuals and classroom instruction? Can a construction firm make itself more attractive for prospective job candidates if they are reliant upon traditional methods of training and onboarding personnel?
Virtual, augmented and mixed reality may be part of the answer. Decades ago, this technology was the domain of academic or military research. The breakthrough came in the form of Oculus. A low cost virtual reality headset developed by a millennial for millennial gamers.
Facebook has since invested obscene amounts of money into Oculus while Microsoft, Google (Daydream) and traditional notebook computer manufacturers have all jumped into the fray. A market once defined by low fidelity graphics at high cost can now immerse you in high fidelity simulations for less than $500.
Canon had, for years, been developing a mixed reality platform that could immerse you in a virtual world and, unlike Oculus or the HTC Vive, allow you to bring your real tools or interact with a real person, rather than a virtual avatar. Intel’s Project Alloy promises to bring a similar solution to market at a much lower price point.
There is a plethora of augmented reality head mounted displays available for under $2000 from the likes of Vuzix, ODG and Epson. Although Epson remains the only provider that can manufacture at scale, the technology, even at low volume is extremely accessible. The latest entry, Microsoft’s Hololens, is redefining the augmented reality space through it’s spatially aware computer vision software which allows content to not just be heads up, but placed in specific locations. With the announcements by Facebook and others that augmented, virtual, and mixed reality is the future of computing technology, the opportunity is here to leverage these solutions to attract the next generation of our workforce.
Consider a young high school graduate selecting a trade. For the sake of argument, let’s say they are considering a welding trade or possible entry into the trucking maintenance realm. During visits to the education facilities, they are exposed to what seems like a traditional classroom-based instruction, coupled with a hands-on apprenticeship with a trucking firm. The welding school, on the other hand, introduces them to their virtual and mixed reality training platform and a comparatively progressive integration of technology into the curriculum. What might peak their interest? Will the technology sway their decision?
Now return for a moment to that prospective 24 year old job candidate. They have received two job offers in the trucking industry. With firm A they will go through an impressive apprenticeship program and be paired with a mentor. They will learn on the job and over time rise through the ranks through traditional training and education methods. Firm B introduces them to their augmented reality program. Experts around the country have shared their tribal knowledge with the enterprise making it available heads up, at their finger tips. Virtual animations of 3D parts and personal messages from a master technician 3 states away gives the impression of the company and their colleagues taking a personal interest in their career and a sense that they are all in this together.
Now which might that candidate choose?
The technology is not the only answer, though it might help make a firm or the education network more attractive to the candidate. There is a cost to the hardware and, unless you opt for custom developed software through work for hire, there is a recurring cost in the form of licensing of or subscription to software. Of course, significant thought needs to be given to the impact on the existing apprenticeship and mentoring program.
The skills gap is real. The workforce is aging. Competition will be fierce for the millennials (and younger) generation to backfill.
Design Interactive has been optimizing human performance at ludicrous speed since 1998. We develop innovative, engaging augmented and virtual reality training solutions and create biosignatures of human emotion, cognition and physical state that empower consumers. To learn more about how we can leverage technology to improve your business processes, contact us here.