There is a truism of DE&I initiatives, that it’s hard for people to become what they cannot see.

This expression arose from the perspective of socially excluded groups accessing careers and other opportunities, but it has an even broader application in the workplace today. Many students leave education not just unprepared, but also unaware, of the range of exciting career opportunities they could explore.

That’s why Transfr’s approach to workforce development uses the Lenovo ThinkReality XR tools, to showcase, prepare, and train young people, to access new career possibilities. The ThinkReality VRX headset creates immersive simulations, while the ThinkReality A3 smart glasses provide augmented layers of information in new workplace scenarios. Together, they broaden access and address the recruitment challenges faced by a range of industrial and public-sector  employers.

Tapping new talent to fill essential roles

As Transfr CEO Bharani Rajakumar explained, “our mission as a company is to get everyone on a career pathway to upward mobility. With over 300 training simulations, we help candidates acquire the baseline skills they need to be attractive to an employer. We serve a demographic we call undiscovered talent.”

In the US, in particular, there is a high demand for vocational skills, owing to an emphasis on academic degrees and a lack of a European-style apprenticeship culture. “So we work with public education institutions to provide physical access through  XR technology to diverse demographics, and make sure people get the training they need,” Rajakumar continued.

The immersive experience of XR training not only provides training and practice to build skills and confidence in new career roles, but it can also open up candidates to new jobs they had never previously considered.

It creates a safe environment for trying out new career possibilities as well, as Mattney Beck, Senior Manager Product Marketing at Lenovo, explained. Because no one likes failing in public.

“People can be anxious about trying new things, putting themselves out there,” he explained. Experimenting with new skills and activities in VR derisks career exploration socially. “It gives candidates the chance to focus on the task in the module, and not feel like they’re going to be embarrassed in front of a crowd… Muscle memory gets created by repetition,and in VR you can repeat as many times as you like until you know you’ve got it right.

“Generally confidence is built by a series of small wins,” he continued, “and if people can show up with skills learned and practiced on day one, it’s amazing the sense of accomplishment that comes from that. This is a real benefit for VR that other types of training simply don’t offer.”

The future of recruitment, selection, and onboarding

In a world where digital natives frequently learn, socialise, and ultimately work remotely, the opportunity for candidates to gain literal hands-on experience across different roles has huge benefits for hirers as well.

As Rajakumar explained, “One surprising outcome has been an increase in retention. The reality is, that when folks have been through XR training during recruitment, they stay in the job longer.

“The training process itself acts as a filter and an opt-in – some people will bow out, and those who do not will enter their new job with increased confidence and decreased friction from day one.”

For a generation entering the workforce today, whose formal education and work experience  has been disrupted by the pandemic, the value of this additional confidence and fit cannot be underestimated. From muscle memory to soft skills, the ability to rehearse and reach competence before showing up to a new role makes all the difference to the new hire, who effectively completes some of their onboarding and training ahead of time.

For their new manager, it’s as though they have hired a more experienced candidate, who will take a much shorter path to being productive and profitable in their position.

XR workforce development training with Transfr, leverages the hardware solutions of Lenovo ThinkReality, to create a genuine win-win for both parties to the contract.