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Train Your Employees with a VR Headset

Chris Johnson, U.S. Jobs Intern, Consumer Technology Association
VR is still commonly thought of as an emerging technology in gaming and video content. As with any emerging tech trend, its applications can and will expand beyond these areas, often into previously unrelated markets. Use of VR as a training tool has been increasingly adopted by companies in all industries – and with great success.

Earlier this month, CTA’s vice president of U.S. Jobs, Jennifer Taylor, interviewed Sara Decker, Walmart’s director of Federal Government Affairs about the future of work, and how the country’s largest employer Walmart is creating a culture of continuous learning for its one million associates.

Walmart recently announced plans to put 17,000 Oculus Go headsets in its stores around the country. Virtual reality (VR) provides a way to train employees in an environment where they can make mistakes without customers around, build confidence – and even have some fun. “It gives us that opportunity to give [associates] hands-on experience without actually creating the situation physically,” said Decker.

VR’s applications allow for engaged training that focuses on learning by doing, while still offering the flexibility to restart or repeat specific training modules. For example, Taylor tried a training module which simulated Walmart’s produce section. She had to identify problems with its setup – such as empty bins or incorrect labeling – without being in the store where this situation should not be purposefully created.

Training with VR can also provide opportunities beyond technical or job-specific skills. VR software company STRIVR partners with Verizon, both CTA members, to provide training in soft skills, specifically by simulating unpredictable situations, such as break-ins at their brick-and-mortar stores. These training modules allow Verizon employees to plan safe and effective protection plans without any risk of real danger. VR creates an active environment that allows employees to respond to situations in real-time and hone those skills through repeated trials of the same simulation.

Walmart recognizes the value of VR for soft skills training too, including simulating various customer service situations associates may face so they can practice empathy and patience before they face real-world situations. Walmart has even used VR to simulate the Black Friday rush and prepare associates for the frenzy they would face that day.

VR creates training environments focused on both technical and soft skills, and the work that Walmart, Verizon and STRIVR – along with several other CTA members – have done shows the promise of this technology to provide innovative solutions for workforce development and training.

Find out more about how CTA’s 21st Century Workforce Council is helping to create a high-skilled workforce.