Sandwell College training students with virtual reality in global study

A West Midlands college has teamed up with VR company Bodyswaps to help students boost their soft skills in a new global project

Sandwell College has been undergoing a global project involving students from Paris, London, and Toronto to support young people in refining their workplace and career skills. 

The high-tech West Midlands college, which is currently the only college of further education within Sandwell, has teamed up with innovative virtual reality (VR) business Bodyswaps to launch the programme. 

Students have been using VR to practice their soft skills before they are launched into the world of work, getting the chance to enhance their competence prior to even submitting any job applications. 

The college currently teaches over 6,000 16-18-year-old’s with an additional 2,000 adult learners. 

How it works

As the name suggests, Bodyswaps have been enabling students to ‘swap bodies’ in VR to reflect on how they would come across in a real-life interview situation. 

The software allows them to hear themselves, evaluate their actions and even assess their posture and body language so they can make any necessary adjustments and improve their behaviour. 

Practice makes perfect 

Students involved in the programme have expressed an overwhelmingly positive response, with 84% saying they now feel more confident about the prospect of undergoing an interview process in real life. 

“There are a lot of things students aren’t taught about at school,” commented Ben Haddock, emerging technologies demonstrator at Sandwell College. “Things like posture, body language, and eye contact. 

“Employers expect work-ready job candidates and there is mounting pressure on institutions to make social skills training part of the curriculum. These skills are just the sort of things that Bodyswaps teaches students that they don’t currently learn about in the classroom.” 

We’re seeing confident students now going off to interviews and getting the jobs – Bridgett Bennet, Sandwell College 

Sandwell is no stranger to innovation – in 2016, they opened their high-tech marker space and digital innovation hub, Fab Lab, equipped with tech ranging from 3D printers, to VR headsets, to laser cutters. 

The college is now looking to build a dedicated ‘Bodyswaps Experience’ area to enable more students to practice their interview skills inside private training booths. 

“Working with Sandwell, we’ve seen first-hand not only great engagement from students but actual improvement in their skills and confidence,” said Christophe Mallet, CEO and co-founder of Bodyswaps. 

“When technology disappears behind its transformative impact, there’s no going back to the old ways.” 

Sandwell College plans to expand their VR soft skills training experience further to make it available to all of their students by the end of 2022. 

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