The NSW Department of Education and their Regional Education Industry Partnerships program have teamed up with several collision industry partners to launch Ready, Tradie Go!, a digital skills program designed to recruit the next generation of apprentices using the new digital tools of virtual reality (VR) and a mobile app by Australian immersive technology company Tradiebot.
The initiative brings together several industry leaders and global organisations such as 3M Automotive Aftermarket, Axalta Coating Solutions, Capital SMART (owned by AMA Group), and AAPR to assist in providing students with the pathway from the classroom to an apprenticeship in the trade.
The first of its kind offering, called Tradieforce Console, gives school students access to the very latest in portable VR hardware. The console matches an Intel NUC microcomputer and an elite graphics card with innovative software that integrates “gamification” into the process of learning the fundamentals of various automotive trades starting with spray painting. Plans are also underway to add other trade skills, such as metal and plastic welding in the coming months that can be downloaded from the Tradieforce website and used on the console to virtually train users to develop early trade skills.
For too long now, trades have struggled to attract new talent due to several factors, including the stigma that trades are a dirty and less desirable career option. Ready, Tradie Go! also includes a feature for high school students to visit the training and innovation centres of industry-leading and world class companies 3M and Axalta, where they will quickly see that the reality of a career in this industry is worlds away from the perception of what the trade used to be.
Using immersive technology that today’s students already know and use at home and at school raises awareness and engagement while promoting the trades as a secure and evolving career choice. Demand and opportunity are higher than ever, providing exciting career pathways to owning your own business or progressing into management roles within your career.
Tradiebot CEO Mario Dimovski, who knows this path all too well as he began his career as a 16 year old automotive plastic repair apprentice, said: “This is a great opportunity to showcase these exciting career pathways into trades using brand new Australian-developed technology. Starting my career as a tradesperson and evolving into a digital pioneer is a great example that having a trade can lead to amazing opportunities. I now have over 60 staff across Australia, New Zealand, Europe and America and enjoy working with some of the world’s brightest minds from industry, academia and government. None of this would have been possible if I hadn’t started my apprenticeship, worked my way through the trade, into management, and eventually to owning my own business.”
Ready, Tradie Go! will provide users with the ability to try new trades in VR, combining familiar gaming elements such as competitive scoring, building and customisation. It encourages best performance while showcasing their vehicle in the virtual showroom.
With the addition of the Tradieforce mobile application, students and/or job seekers with an interest in a trade career can acquire information and hear directly from potential employers and trade professionals. The application provides users with the ability to create a profile, build up their resume and apply for jobs in real time. Users can choose to connect with each other and can share their success stories with others who may be thinking about starting a career within a trade-based industry.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic having major impacts on not only the way we interact, but also daily business operations and travel, traditional forms of training have become more difficult. Businesses and training organisations are now seeking new approaches to training to be able to provide staff with the necessary skills and understanding required to undertake work on the ever-changing, complex vehicles of today. Utilising remote digital solutions such as those Tradiebot has to offer enables training to be undertaken in real time, anywhere, and at a time that will suit each individual,” said Peter O’Doherty, Senior Project Officer for the Regional Industry Education Partnerships Training Services NSW.
“By utilising virtual training, learner engagement is improved. With the real world disappearing when the user places on the VR headset, they become less susceptible to interruptions that may be occurring within the surrounding environment. Ultimately, students become more engaged by the material and are more likely to retain the information displayed.”
Training organisations are provided with access to an online portal that provides user-based analytics. The platform captures and tracks information on a variety of different aspects of performance, such as statistics for previous attempts, time taken, paint used, and session recordings, along with multiple other features that will assist trainers in monitoring progress and identifying areas of concern.
NSW Education aims to spread the program within the state, offering schools the opportunity to borrow a Tradieforce console to try new skills and be assessed virtually in the comfort of their own classroom.