Learning & Development, Technology

How VR Can Help Bridge the Experience Gap in Employee Training

There’s often a chicken-and-egg problem with employee recruitment and training. Employers almost always want to hire someone with experience, but while some candidates might have the experience from a previous role, others are actually hoping to gain that experience from the job they’re applying for, but they need the experience to get the job.

Many employers shy away from inexperienced candidates because on-the-job training can be extremely costly, not just in terms of time and money but also in terms of the potential for costly mistakes.

At the same time, the current job market doesn’t allow a lot of leeway for employers that would rather hire only experienced workers. So how can these two challenges be reconciled?

VR and the Skills Gap

Well, virtual reality (VR) is one potential solution, and it’s one that has seen tremendous advancements and cost reductions over the last couple of decades. By closely simulating real-life situations, VR can help trainees gain close-to-real-world experience without the cost and high stakes of actual real-world experience. In other words, VR can act as a bridge from the classroom to the real world.

“Traditional learning starts in a classroom,” writes Stephen Baer in an article for Forbes. “Whether in person or online, gaining knowledge from textbooks and other resources is the No. 1 priority,” he says. Of course, in corporate environments, employers also are interested in demonstrated skills and experience, which are considered trusted indicators of an employee’s potential to perform in the job they’re applying for or currently in. 

The Role of Repetition

Baer notes that people conquer skills mostly through repetition. “They have to practice, fail and improve repeatedly,” he says. “This process doesn’t usually happen by attending instructor-led training sessions. People have to experience things for themselves. In other words, your training must create opportunities for experiential learning in order to actually be helpful and as a result yield competent employees.”

While classroom-based training often fails to adequately prepare staff for their essential job duties, genuine on-the-job training comes with a lot of risks and costs. VR continues to advance and is increasingly being leveraged by top companies to help bridge this gap.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.