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Workforce Readiness

Arkansas Program Uses VR for Career Exploration

A statewide initiative in Arkansas is using virtual reality to help residents explore technical career paths and training options. The Arkansas Office of Skills Development partnered with Arkansas Community Colleges and economic development platform TRANSFR for the program, which has already reached more than 200 students throughout the state and plans to reach up to 4,500 more this year.

Through the program's career path discovery tool, students and job seekers can access hands-on virtual reality experiences developed by TRANSFR that provide an immersive, on-the-job view of a variety of technical industries, such as manufacturing, skilled trades, warehousing and storage, hospitality, public safety and automotive. Students then receive information on local community colleges and job training programs that can help them prepare for those careers.

"To address the shortage of skilled talent felt by employers in Arkansas and across the country, the first step is ensuring that students and early career professionals gain exposure to the wide range of skilled occupations that are in demand," said Kenneth Calhouln, fleet optimization manager for Altec, an employer partner supporting the program. "This partnership will help more Arkansas residents explore career pathways in the industries in greatest need — and understand the education and training options available to help them take their next professional step."

"Demand for talent is growing in industries like manufacturing, transportation, construction and the skilled trades — professions that can often lead to long-term economic and career stability. However, students often lack awareness of the education or training options they need to get started," commented Cody Waits, director of the Arkansas Office of Skills Development. "This statewide program is an example of how we can pair innovative technologies with our existing career and technical education resources to help more students prepare for new career horizons — and meet the skilled workforce needs of employers."

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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