The manufacturing industry continues to be challenged with a shortage of skilled workers. A survey of manufacturing executives conducted by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte ranked access to a highly skilled, flexible workforce as the most important factor in their success—20 percentage points higher than other factors, such as new product innovation or increased market share.
While the need for skilled labour increases, so do consumer demands. These heightened demands, both for talent and quick turnaround times, are presenting the material handling industry with a big challenge.
Shrinking the Skills Gap
To address this concern, the industry is looking for innovative ways to attract new talent to fill these positions and reach higher operator proficiency levels efficiently. Virtual reality (VR) instructional tools are a key innovation redefining the material handling and logistics industries and helping to shrink the skills gap.
VR is being used as a supplemental educational tool for lift truck operators—allowing them to be coached and gain more confidence with truck controls, all before reaching the warehouse floor. By putting on a VR headset, operators can learn lift truck driving best practices and get a feel for being on the equipment within a simulated and secure environment.
Attracting Talent with Next-gen Technology
With advanced educational offerings, employers can attract younger talent into the workforce and start shrinking the skills gap. VR educational modules include a series of guided lessons that increase in complexity and build upon principles learned in earlier lessons, providing the user with a consistent experience and reinforcing desired behaviours throughout the modules.
Another benefit of these next-generation tools is the opportunity for instructors to immediately assess which associates would be successful operators—including those who are not dissuaded by heights—and in which applications.
Warehouse and hiring managers find that VR modules provide them with a clearer view as to who would excel in the role as a lift truck operator. Traditionally, educators and hiring teams could not assess the skills and tendencies needed to excel as a forklift operator—skills such as hand-eye coordination. Through advanced technology, hiring managers can more easily determine whether forklift operation is the best position for a job candidate.
Practicing for Real-life Scenarios
A key advantage of VR education is the ability to experience real-life situations otherwise not available through traditional classroom settings. Being coached through these situations in a virtual environment can help the operator be better prepared, should a similar event occur while operating on the floor.
VR also provides a consistent educational experience for your workforce. Establishing a standard practice for handling emergency scenarios can be crucial, so when a real-life event happens, everyone knows the exact protocol to follow. This can help create a more secure working environment overall.