Checking Out Career Interests through Virtual Reality

For decades career counselling and testing has provided students, job seekers and career changers with guidance in choosing their appropriate career path. As with every other industry, technology plays a role in changing the way we do business. Thanks to Up360inc, EPC is now able to provide the opportunity to “try out” an occupation using virtual reality. Their goal is to design software that will allow individuals to “learn by doing in a realistic and immersive environment, overcome fears and anxieties related to on-the-job learning, develop confidence, develop transferable skills, find meaningful employment and prepare for their future”.

Initial access to the program includes a tutorial, fun underwater experience and realistic experiences in the following careers: HVAC Contractor, Welding Technician, Heavy Equipment Operator, Robotics Technician, Residential Electrician, Bartending, Food Prep, Office Worker, Auto Mechanics and Store Clerk. Up360inc plans to add 6 additional careers to the software every year with the goal of providing a virtual reality experience for the most in-demand careers.

As someone who has tried out both the underwater virtual experience and the Construction Welding experience, I can say without question that it provides a very realistic experience. While it may take awhile to become proficient at the skill, virtual reality provides participant insight into other elements of the job as well. Fear of heights/darkness, fine motor coordination, physical ability, depth perception, safety awareness, sensitivity to noise/motion, claustrophobia, workplace isolation, job demands and pressure from coworkers and supervisors are all important elements of the job. VR allows the participant to ‘check out’ an occupation in a safe environment.

Choosing a career can be a very onerous task. Considerations such as cost for post-secondary education, relocation for schooling, labour market information and job prospects, wage and job demands are factors that may influence our decision. However, unless we have had the opportunity to job shadow or pursue some type of work placement experience, the ability to actually experience the work tasks and workplace environment are elements that are only left to our imagination and personal interpretation. Virtual Reality helps to address the realities of the workplace and, as a result, is designed to increase job retention. Knowing what to expect on the job provides a job seeker with the necessary information to make a career choice that is suitable for them. As a vital tool for career decision-making, attainment and retention, VR provides the opportunity to demonstrate problem solving skills, accuracy and proficiency.

If you live in the Peterborough area, want to explore a career path in an immersive environment, gain a better understanding of the job elements and expectations, overcome obstacles related to on-the-job learning and your confidence, develop transferable and have some fun, book an appointment with an Employment Counsellor to see if VR would be a helpful tool for your career exploration.