According to recommendations based on recent research, a one-year UK-wide scheme of recovery internships should be established. At the same time, the UK faces a growing digital skills gap – which cost businesses £6.3 billion in 2018 alone, according to The Open University. This means that any new wave of talent entering the workforce needs to be digitally enabled. The use of technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) must start amongst education providers. In 2020, these technologies are already redefining ways of working, and as the pandemic increases the scarcity of resources, education leaders should also think about how they can help digitally equip staff and students. This includes the way they offer training and continuous learning opportunities to fill the UK’s growing skills gap.
In light of the digital skills gap and recent disruptions, onboarding, retaining and upskilling the workforce are some of the biggest challenges facing education providers and businesses today. This is why education providers need to rapidly embrace new technology, find smart ways to standardise knowledge sharing and give vital digital skills to staff and students. If they don’t, they face a loss in productivity, business innovation and team morale as workforce churn rises. Additionally, students graduating will have a hard time being finding employment in a time when graduate recruitment is down globally.
Augmented reality (AR) is just one of the valuable tools that can be used to train or onboard staff, students and eventually graduates and apprentices, ensuring they’re aware of the right protocols, procedures and processes. As more educational institutions begin using AR to train in real-life scenarios as early as primary and secondary schools, it means crucial digital skills are formed early on. As a result, by the time students apply to internships, graduate schemes or apprenticeships, they won’t need as much training in using the technology itself, and this will free up time for them to learn more about the business and their role. For the education providers looking to hire, AR also benefits existing employees as it means faster knowledge sharing regardless of physical location and enables more engaging training sessions and a more productive workforce. Here’s how AR can help to step up your virtual training:
Mitigate onboarding barriers through real-time interactive training
Training new employees is one of the most valuable applications for AR, particularly as there’s currently a shortage of key experts with digital skills due to the digital acceleration across all industries following COVID-19.
The earlier AR can be used across the organisation – from onboarding a new member of staff, to ensuring employees are aware of correct protocols and procedures – the less digital training the employee will need later down the line. For example, teachers that need to train graduates starting a new role, especially remotely, should be using AR. This gets the graduates used to the technology, and also enables experts to see issues beyond the screen. No matter how far away they are, they can see through their connection partner’s smartphone camera. At a glance, this technology enables them to observe any type of equipment or infrastructure issue and swiftly diagnose the problem. But, how is this different to a video call? AR technology brings communications to life by offering a range of interactive capabilities. With AR the expert can, for example, set 3D markers onto real-world objects and label the next steps for the graduate to guide them through the solution. Therefore, the next time the issue arises, the graduate will be able to fix it themselves rather than relying on the experts – safe in the knowledge that they’re still on hand if needed.
Effective knowledge transfer
Hands-on training with direct visual feedback and expert guidance ensures effective knowledge transfer and retention, even with the restrictions imposed by COVID-19. Today, this technology goes beyond needing an AR-capable device to hand. Features such as session recording, or being able to take a screenshot of the live video stream, are increasingly being used to create a pool of expert knowledge that’s readily available to new employees, students, apprentices and interns on-demand.
This maintains high standards of documentation and protocol across the business, and within education providers, and enables new employees and learners to work without constant supervision. They can refer back to the recording and see any part of the training to troubleshoot themselves, before having to engage a supervisor. Augmented reality experiences like this mean organisations can develop more dynamic and cost-effective training programmes, retain key knowledge and continually improve processes and standards across the board. The result of faster, quality training is more time freed up for both teachers and their managers to focus on growth and innovation opportunities.
One-to-one support anywhere in the world
AR unlocks ways of getting remote support in the moment it’s needed most, helping to close the skills gap by seamlessly sharing the knowledge and encouraging collaboration. Enabling more effective global communications is extremely important for education provisioning strategies, especially due to travel restrictions from COVID-19, which means less teachers are able to travel to different sites for training sessions and interactions with the wider community. If this technology was not available to train new employees, students and graduates, uncertainties could lead to a break in compliance, a lack of standards and even safety issues.
With the digital skills gap growing, and the future of the work landscape changing with little warning during the pandemic, the responsibility is on education providers to implement new technology that will attract talent; upskill the current workforce; improve knowledge retention; limit employee churn; and even more importantly, give students the advantage of adding digital skills to their resumes as graduates. Education providers need to act now to embed the right tools, knowledge sharing standards and a culture of continuous learning across the industry. Only then will they be able to thrive, now and into the future.
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