AIDT, Alabama’s state workforce development agency, today announced the selection of its virtual reality training program as the 2021 Workforce Program of the Year award by the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals, the national association that represents more than 3,000 state and local workforce leaders in all 50 states.
“During this period of change and uncertainty in the labor market and broader economy, it’s essential that we use every tool at our disposal to rethink workforce development and training, and our investments in immersive learning technology are reflective of that belief,” said Ed Castile, deputy secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce and executive director, AIDT. “We’re humbled to receive this national recognition. It’s reflective of the AIDT team’s focus and commitment to developing high-impact training pathways that are expanding access to good-paying jobs and meaningful careers in fast-growing industries for every Alabamian.”
The distinction from NAWDP recognizes innovative workforce programs that are creating new ways of delivering high-quality workforce training services. The selection specifically recognized AIDT for its virtual reality training program, which is working to make job training in one of Alabama’s fastest-growing industries accessible to thousands of unemployed workers and aspiring manufacturing professionals across the state.
Powered by immersive learning startup TRANSFR, the new training initiative was built in collaboration with several companies which includes Hyundai Power Transformers, the Montgomery-based division of Hyundai Electric Systems that specializes in the manufacture of power transformers used in electrical grids across the U.S.
Building on more than a decade of deep, technical training partnership between the two organizations, AIDT teamed with Hyundai Power Transformers (HPT) to create a virtual reality simulation that vividly recreates HPT’s seven-story manufacturing facility. Incumbent workers and trainees gain invaluable first-hand experience with the safety protocols required to operate heavy machinery and equipment of up to 400 tons, lifting power transformers as heavy as 800,000 pounds.
“To meet the needs of Alabama’s state manufacturing base, we need to continue to find new ways to deliver precision training experiences that can help aspiring professionals and trainees develop the on-the-job experience required to excel in our industry,” said Tony E. Wojciechowski, chief human resources officer for HPT. “As an employer partner that depends on the output of our public workforce infrastructure, our organization has long enjoyed a productive and collaborative working relationship with AIDT. This recognition reaffirms the forward-thinking approach to innovation in workforce development.”
“The impact of this innovative new partnership reaches far beyond just the needs of one employer or community in the state,” said Bharani Rajakumar, founder and CEO of TRANSFR. “The workforce and company leaders involved in this work are working at the bleeding edge of learning and technology to help expand access to good-paying careers in industries like manufacturing open to more Alabamians—regardless of their educational background.”
About AIDT: AIDT is a state agency established to build a healthy state economy by recruiting and training a skilled workforce to attract new industries to the state and to expand existing industries. As a division of the Alabama Department of Commerce, AIDT provides a full range of customized technical training programs that are offered at no cost to employers and to the trainees. Leadership training programs are also available. In addition to training, AIDT offers services including trainee recruitment and screening, safety assistance, and industrial maintenance assessments.
About TRANSFR: TRANSFR is a workforce development platform that uses simulation-based training to give students and job-seekers the hands-on skills they need to get well-paying jobs. Together with community leaders, workforce development organizations, educational institutions, and business and industry, we are building a classroom-to-career pipeline to raise up people, the organizations where they learn and work, and the communities that they call home.
TRANSFR’s hands-on simulations provide an immersive learning environment that gives students and job seekers the real-world experience they need to choose a career path and then get trained to perform it. Guided by a digital coach, they receive expert, personal instruction that introduces them to different careers, teaches them how to perform essential tasks, gives feedback based on their specific actions, and assesses progress toward mastery of skills in real time. Those who have partnered with TRANSFR have used the training to help job seekers understand their career options, develop more skilled workers, place more people in jobs, and see improved job retention rates. For more information, visit transfrvr.com.