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How 3D immersive reality training will help close the skilled labor gap

How 3D immersive reality training will help close the skilled labor gapPhoto from Unsplash

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Despite significant post-pandemic recovery, the U.S. is in the grips of a skilled labor shortage. Since the Great Resignation of 2021, companies have scrambled to recruit and onboard workers fast enough to backfill open roles. As older employees retire, entire industries struggle to attract and retain new talent. Meanwhile, manufacturers of appliances, computer electronics, and transportation, medical, and electrical equipment are reshoring in order to reduce logistics costs and supply chain disruptions.

There is an expanding need to upskill and cross-skill workers. The key to retention is making workers successful quickly; otherwise, manufacturers can expect increased turnover, lower product quality, and longer fulfillment timelines. Emerging technologies will play a crucial role in the training and operational enablement of tomorrow’s workforce.

Enter BILT Intelligent Instructions 

BILT creates 3D interactive instructions and delivers the animated content to iOS and Android mobile devices. Hundreds of manufacturers including Siemens, Weber, Assa Abloy, Chamberlain, Connecticut Electric, Samsung, Qcells, and Clearfield use BILT to train technicians in assembly, installation, maintenance, and repair. With the launch of Apple Vision Pro, BILT introduced a new spatial computing app to provide turnkey guided work instructions in an extended reality (XR) environment.

Research indicates that for complex tasks with more than 100 steps, 3D interactive instructions (delivered on the mobile app) reduce training time up to 55%. In the XR version of BILT for Apple Vision Pro, trainees can bring 3D animations into real space to gain proficiency in a safe and dynamic setting. Learning experts anticipate this type of immersive training will further accelerate time-to-proficiency.

In a survey of training experts, 76% agreed that XR allows trainees to complete tasks faster; 81% said XR increases confidence and cultivates muscle memory. Most significantly, 74% said XR provides a recruiting edge and 70% said it helps them retain top talent. The BILT platform can be used seamlessly across mobile and spatial computing devices for instruction support in a factory setting or on the job. The result is exponential improvement in training outcomes. Here’s how:

Lower Training Costs 

In a survey of 250 manufacturing and field service executives, respondents said the average cost to train a new employee is $4,400 to $4,800, with 18% reporting costs over $5,000. Those estimates do not include the cost of ongoing review as skills and technology needs evolve and change. More than 50% of executives cite the cost of training as a key area of concern.

Traditional training methods often include hidden costs, such as materials, printouts, and lost time for trainers. Significant costs may include damage to equipment and risks to worker safety. Immersive training, despite initial upfront costs, can result in significant long-term savings. Once content is created, it requires fewer resources and less support, and digital modules can be reused by each new trainee.

More Efficient Training & Support 

According to survey respondents, the average time it takes to train a new hire is nine weeks. The manufacturing industry has been especially hard hit by the “silver tsunami” of baby boomers reaching retirement age and exiting the workforce. Tech-forward training is often more daunting for older workers, but Generation Z and millennials prioritize active and autonomous learning. And where boomers are likely to stay in the same role a decade or more, younger employees typically leave a job within three years, compounding the labor turnover rate.

This culture of job-hopping is almost certainly here to stay, and training needs to speed up in order to catch up. But simply shortening programs or rushing through traditional training can lead to risky on-the-job guesswork, and expensive — or even dangerous — mistakes. The BILT platform is intuitive enough to enable self-guidance while fostering collaboration for troubleshooting. BILT is proven to reduce calls to technical support by up to 35% and shorten the calls they do receive by providing step standardization across user devices. With BILT for Apple Vision Pro, technicians doing remote work can share their real-time perspective with experts off site.

Increased Productivity 

Executives predict inefficient training could lead to an 11% drop in productivity over the next two years. Meanwhile, almost a third of those surveyed anticipate revenue losses due to inadequate training programs. When poor training leads to a skill-deficient workforce, the consequences can be even more significant.

Many of the problems with current training programs stem from the use of obsolete materials. Nearly a quarter of executives admit their training materials haven’t been updated in more than six years. Trainees must rely on veteran colleagues for on-the-job assistance. 3D instructions on BILT can be updated in near-real time to keep employees abreast of best practices and the most current tribal knowledge.

Improved Employee Experience 

Studies show employees are more likely to be loyal when their employer provides opportunities for professional development. Cross-skilling can increase innovation and efficiency company wide. On the flip side, 48% of executives agree poor onboarding increases turnover. Improving training boosts worker confidence which leads to increased job satisfaction for both new hires and veteran employees alike.

A 3D interactive training experience gives workers a strong launch point for success. Whether the equipment is new to a technician, or they simply need a refresher, BILT’s self-paced instructions allow users to replay and skip steps, zoom in, and rotate the view for a customized angle. They can tap on a part or tool and inspect 3D animations from any perspective. This allows employees to engage in their preferred learning style, whether it be auditory, visual, or kinesthetic, which improves memory retention up to 90%. It’s more engaging than sifting through binders of paper and diagrams or skimming PowerPoints or videos, and the outcome will be more standardized than one-on-one on-the-job training.

Enhanced Worker Safety 

Compared to other industries, manufacturers have historically faced some of the highest rates of work-related injuries. In 2020 alone, 373,300 manufacturing workers sustained non-fatal injuries. Meanwhile, 43% of executives admit inefficient training leads to an increase in injuries.

Immersive reality training, like BILT for Apple Vision Pro, enables employees to upskill without the danger of injury or damage to expensive equipment. XR tools allow employees to acclimate safely to best practices with hands-on exercises, which improves learning comprehension and retention.

Bottom Line: Customers Win 

Inefficient training doesn’t merely affect employers and employees; it has a measurable negative impact on the consumer experience. In fact, 55% of managers predict poor training will lead to lower quality products and services. Executives agree and anticipate an increase in missed deadlines and fulfillment delays.

Tech-forward training on immersive platforms like BILT empower workers to train faster, safer, and more cost effectively. It helps them gain confidence and gives them the tools to do their jobs right the first time. The result is a happier, more productive workforce, and a satisfied end customer.

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