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Future of on-the-job training in virtual reality

A programme participant experiences forklift training via virtual reality at JNL. PHOTO/GEORGE SHIERS

George Shiers

Virtual Reality [VR] is proving to be the a valuable tool in getting people off the benefit and into employment.

In what is an industry-first, VR technology is being used to train people to get forklift certified, without the risk of crashing a vehicle or running someone over – and Wairarapa’s first course began last week.

The training initiative is being run by Impac and Ministry of Social Development [MSD], with JNL mill in Waingawa providing the space.

Impac VR Competency general manager Andrew Stone said the aim of the programme was for those on a benefit to get the feel of an industry they could soon be working in, and to build skills and confidence.

“We started out with the idea that getting people to a competent level so that they could be useful to an employer needed something different.

“So to come straight off unemployment, they needed to be competent and they needed to have the confidence to do the job.”

Stone said that, of the people who took part in the programme, about 90 per cent found full-time work.

“We’re anticipating two more categories of equipment training starting in December this year.”

Wairarapa MSD service centre manager Shannon Meynell said her team had received a lot of interest in the programme.

“When we found out about this opportunity coming we were really excited because we are always looking for opportunities for our clients to get hands-on experience to be able to support them and get them on into employment,” Meynell said.

“We’ve had great attendance for these first few days here. Everyone was really enthusiastic.

“The clients have given really good feedback that this is filling a gap in the market and helping them build their confidence and feel good about themselves.”

JNL Wairarapa mill general manager Karl Burling said it was a good initiative for the community at large.

“This is a really different process of thinking about training

“It doesn’t matter if they don’t end up working here afterwards, as they’ll be working in the community.”

However, Burling said JNL would be looking at hiring some participants in the programme.

George Shiers
George Shiers
George Shiers is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age interested in politics and social issues. He reports regularly on a range of topics including infrastructure, housing, and transport. George is also the Tararua reporter and helps cover police, fire and court stories.

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