How virtual reality training and this type of technology benefits the building industry at large by combatting the labor shortage in an efficient way
By Anthony Delmedico
Virtual Reality (VR) training technology is one of the latest and greatest trends to help businesses scale. Contractors throughout the nation are adopting VR training to overcome the hassles and headaches of the labor shortage. One of the biggest hurdles in the construction industry today is attracting, recruiting, training and retaining talent.
The construction industry utilizes an amazing array of technology to improve safety, performance, customer service enhancements and jobsite monitoring. The things we can do today at the touch of a button are incredible! But, the industry has been seriously lagging. Previous underinvestment in technology has been the root cause of low productivity. Innovation is key, and digital technologies are gaining serious traction. VR training allows homebuilding businesses to save time, resources and money. For example, new hires can put these on, in the office, and be transported to a roof of a facility to learn how to assess and come up with a solution to a roof leak, etc. In production, roofing contractors can now train both their employees and subcontractors on installation procedures. This is inside a 360-degree, fully immersed real-life experience. There are even apps in Spanish to resolve the language barrier.
VR training goggles are becoming increasingly popular because edutainment is as important as the technology itself. VR is fun to use and watch. It’s tangible. It’s interesting. It’s real. And it’s brand new to the industry, which adds to the novelty factor. As a former construction company owner, I know the hassles and headaches that contractors face. Attracting top talent, hiring, recruiting, training and retaining staff are at the top of that list.
Now, even more than before, it’s an absolute urgency to attract the younger generations including millennials, Generation Z and beyond. Millennials are not only the first digital generation, they are currently the largest segment in the workforce, born between 1981-1996. Unfortunately, they are also known as the
“least engaged generation in the workforce.” The “Post-Millennials,” aka Generation Z, were born after 1997 and are the latest wave of young professionals entering the workforce. It is estimated that Gen Z will account for 40 percent of consumers, influencing nearly $4 billion in discretionary spending by 2020. That’s this year, folks! Most of Gen Z have used the Internet and technology since a very young age and are very comfortable with it. And coming up after them, we have Generation Alpha, the children of the millennials, born between 2011- 2025. Starting in about 10 short years, they will be of working age!
For the construction industry, it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit younger talent, especially in the fields of sales, project management and estimating. To overcome this hurdle, more and more contractors are using VR goggles at job fairs and career expos to attract the younger hordes and show them what the Sales Associate or Project Manager does on a daily basis. The state-of-the-art technology helps package it up into a fun, lucrative opportunity.
Let’s be honest, finding good help is tough in this economy. Unemployment is low and jobs are everywhere. Almost every roofing, restoration or construction related business owner I know is hiring right now. The industry needs to adapt to some of the new technologies to start attracting the newer generations, or company owners are going to find themselves understaffed pretty quickly. The competitive landscape is ever changing, and the VR training has filled a massive void in the market. Companies have two choices: evolve or dissolve.
My company’s VR goggles provide a 360-degree virtual reality environment and come pre-loaded with a VR training app, VR training room and several VR industry-specific courses to help contractors recruit, onboard, and train employees. Our courses include scouting damaged areas; conducting roof and property inspections; swiftly identifying and monitoring targeted geographic areas after a storm to help property owners recover; how to identify roof damage and determine type of damage; business sales; industry protocols; educating property owners on damage, roofing options, warranties and materials. There is an increasing demand from manufacturers and suppliers for their own “private label” training courses as well.
Whether it’s the quality of training and wondering if your trainer did it well in the midst of conflicts and personalities, or the need to dedicate valuable resources to training, or the additional money spent, or the inability to test how the knowledge was grasped after throwing all those resources to training, it quickly adds up to one hefty investment to train even one single staff member! With VR training, contractors now have a proven system that doesn’t require any additional staff time, resources, money, office drama or even a human. VR goggles provide the opportunity to automate and save hundreds of hours in training time. And even better? Rain or shine, new hires can train indoors in a real-life virtual platform with a laser pointer and a set of goggles. Welcome to the future of the industry.