AIDT, Alabama’s state workforce development agency, has announced a statewide program in collaboration with Hyundai Power Transformers (HPT), the division of Hyundai Electric Systems that specializes in the manufacture of power transformers used in electrical grids across the U.S. Built in collaboration with immersive learning startup TRANSFR, the partnership is making job training in one of Alabama’s fastest-growing industries accessible to thousands of unemployed workers and aspiring manufacturing professionals across the state, organizations report.
“This is an application of VR technology that extends well beyond what many of us are familiar with from gaming or consumer apps. It's about harnessing the potential of immersive learning to train and certify employees on critical, in-demand skills at unprecedented scale,” says Tony Wojciechowski, chief human resource officer at HPT. “It's providing employers like us with a powerful new tool to train, recruit, and hire talent right here in Alabama.”
The latest collaboration between AIDT and HPT, a partnership that dates back more than a decade, is helping to address part of the state economic development goal set by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey in 2018 to add 500,000 highly skilled employees to Alabama’s workforce by 2025.
“By putting this powerful solution in the hands of employers like HPT, we’re helping them to make good on their commitment to hire Alabama residents for good-paying manufacturing jobs,” says Ed Castile, deputy secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce and executive director, AIDT. “This is about not just meeting the training and safety needs of industry partners, but also creating a repeatable and cost-efficient approach that can be applied in the context of other heavy industries, such as aviation and shipbuilding.”
At the core of the public-private partnership is a simulation of HPT’s seven-story manufacturing facility developed by immersive learning pioneer TRANSFR. Within the simulation, workers gain first-hand experiences 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.
The training initiative is helping to increase compliance with industry standards as HPT employees learn how to operate and service cranes within OSHA standards, using a highly repeatable and consistent training process.
“Alabama is leading the way in harnessing the potential of technology to unlock economic opportunity for citizens across the state,” says Bharani Rajakumar, founder and CEO of TRANSFR. “This is about expanding access to complex and high-stakes training to fulfill the state’s workforce development goals and fulfill growing demand from major manufacturers like HPT.”
Hyundai Power Transformers and the State of Alabama are leaders within a fast-growing community of states, community colleges, and employers including Lockheed Martin, that are now leveraging the power of virtual simulations to boost employee performance, drive retention and help workers develop hands-on skills required for on-the-job success, organizations note.
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