Virtual reality job training offers student summer enrichment


By WVUA 23 News Reporter Karris Harmon

Tuscaloosa’s One Place, partnering with West Alabama Works, held its summer enrichment program on Sunday, June 6, at Central High School to expose local middle school students to a variety of topics to help them prepare for future careers.

As part of the program, students participated in virtual skills training using virtual reality headsets.

Programs like this are important for children as it makes learning fun, said West Alabama Works Workforce Development Outreach and Program Manager Lauren Collier.

“Not only are we always trying to innovate new ways to bring programs — good programs —  to students, but it also shows that they are really enjoying it and having a good time. Part of it is gameplay, but the other part of it is learning something new,” she said.

By putting on VR headsets, students have the opportunity to learn about careers like welding, automotive and hospitality.

The technology even allows them to engage in hands-on training, Collier said.

“It allows them the chance to be able to experience what they would on that job site. They are actually doing the jobs and they are getting the training that they would normally if they were starting the job,” she said. “For a middle schooler? That’s a pretty big deal.”

One Place’s Director of Family and Youth Services Roosevelt Jackson said this program has a great impact on youth in the community.

“It gives them some confidence to do certain jobs. They are also having fun but learning something and being productive as well,” he said.

Since the beginning of spring, West Alabama Works has visited 13 schools in the area, and they have worked with about 1,200 students.

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