Technology is changing how experts think about training for skilled trades industries like heating, vacuum and air conditioning (HVAC), plumbing and electrical. With 3D simulations, virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI), organizations can now deliver immersive, scalable solutions that dramatically increase efficiency and effectiveness while offsetting some of the equipment and operations costs of traditional training. The result is a rapidly evolving landscape.

Traditionally, skilled trades training has consisted of classroom instruction followed by hands-on experience in a learning lab or on the job. The labs are stocked with a few pieces of expensive equipment, with learners waiting in line to take a brief turn.

When that arrangement was standardized, it was the only realistic option. As digital learning has advanced, however, its inefficiencies have become apparent. When you have limited access to equipment, learning can be compromised.

With customized, expert-led digital training platforms, learners can build foundational skills and develop confidence by working hands-on in a safe, no-fail virtual environment. Over the course of their career, they can use the same tools to continue adding advanced skills and cross-training. Flexible digital training can enable learners to train on their own, at their own pace, while also providing in-depth analytics so instructors can track and assess their progress.

The results can be effective in helping organizations rapidly train technicians for the field, a key benefit during this ongoing labor shortage. Digital training solutions can streamline processes and simultaneously improve learner outcomes, empowering organizations to effectively recruit and retain team members, reduce callbacks and ultimately, elevate the on-the-job experience for techs as well as customers.

Here are some of the ways digital learning platforms are enhancing training for skilled trades organizations:

  • Engagement: Today’s workers think and learn differently than previous cohorts. Most adults learn best through doing, creating and thriving on hands-on experiences that connect to real-world outcomes. Simulations and VR-based training can be one of the most effective ways to engage learners in the classroom.
  • Customization: Different learners have different skill sets and bring different experiences to training. The most efficient training allows instructors to customize learning pathways for each learner. Digital learning platforms can provide unique flexibility, enabling companies to assess workers’ technical skills and personalize training to meet their needs regardless of skill level. With curated learning paths, technicians learn the right skills, in the right order.
  • Elevate: Research has repeatedly shown the positive impact of simulation training for workers in a variety of industries. Data demonstrates that 3D simulations and VR can help improve knowledge retention and performance, and reduce process errors for workers. Experts are increasingly recognizing the effectiveness of simulations across disciplines and industries, including skilled trades.
  • Accelerate: In skilled industries such as manufacturing, construction and commercial and residential plumbing, HVAC or electrical services, effective training can be one of the most important tools for companies in competitive markets. Many trades employers struggle to meet consumer demand because of critical staffing issues. With flexible digital training, organizations can recruit capable, trustworthy employees with limited trades experience and get them job-ready, faster.
  • Measure: In addition to specific training content, effective digital training programs can include assessments to identify skills gaps and measure what learners know before and after training. They can also track and monitor participation and progress.

These developments are having a continuing dramatic impact on skilled trades training. Flexible, immersive, technology-based learning can offer powerful opportunities for organizations to successfully address some of the most urgent challenges facing trades industries. Digital learning platforms are a proven, effective method for building foundational skills and quickly preparing new workers for the field.

They are also an important element for continuous career support that can help organizations reach the younger workforce, who strongly value continuing L&D opportunities. Most importantly, digital learning platforms can also enhance employee retention by supporting the goals of seasoned employees.