How do you interest high school students in a career in construction in today’s tight labor market? That’s the challenge faced by the International Finishing Trades Institute (iFTI), the training arm of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT).
iFTI turned to the Gronstedt Group to develop a recruitment and training experience in virtual reality. Prospects step into a virtual construction site where they use both hands to practice pouring in water and mixing joint compound for drywall finishing. Grabbing a virtual “tape bazooka,” they fill it with the compound, load it with a tape roll and drag it across a drywall seam to tape it from floor to ceiling. Finally, they fill and run a flat box finisher along the joint. The simulation engulfs the senses and encourages the brain to suspend disbelief, lending a sense of actually being a drywall finisher on a construction site.
The Holodeck has arrived.
“We are appealing to a generation of recruits who’ve grown up in 3D virtual environments, this might be new to us, but it’s commonplace for them,” Tom Pfundstein, Ph.D., Director of Curriculum & Instruction
“How many times can you try out a job before you select a profession? Now they can experience exactly what it’s like to have a career in the Finishing Trades,” Simon Hazelwood, Apprenticeship Training Representative, Canadian Region
Future VR programs will challenge recruits to crane glass panels into place for installation and make surfaces come alive using a paint spray gun. It will be offered during expositions and recruitment drives and be publicly available for anyone who owns an Oculus/Meta Quest VR headset.