Students try skilled trades in the classroom using virtual reality

Jenna Boychuk SATCC Home Page News, SATCC News

Woman wearing VR headset and holding VR controllersVirtual reality allows students to step into someone else’s work boots and explore a trade without leaving the classroom.

Launched during the 2021-22 school year, virtual reality (VR) has enabled the Saskatchewan Youth Apprenticeship (SYA) team at the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission (SATCC) to provide students with an immersive experience of the skilled trades. Using computer technology to create a simulated environment which can be explored in 360 degrees, VR puts the tools of the trade in users’ hands, or controllers.

The SATCC received funding from the Ministry of Immigration and Career Training (ICT) for the purchase of VR kits and software. The addition of the VR skilled trade simulations has enhanced SYA presentations delivered within Saskatchewan high schools.

SYA Manager Samantha Kitzul has seen the impact these presentations can have. “The immersive VR experience encourages a thoughtful classroom discussion following each simulation,” she said. “I ask: Have you ever contemplated this as a career? Does this give you a different perspective of those who are journeyperson certified and work in this field?”

Following a presentation on apprenticeship, careers in the skilled trades and the SYA program, students can participate in a VR simulation. Some students wear a VR headset and carry out the trade’s tasks. Their experience is projected onto a screen, so the rest of the class can watch the simulation unfold. Everyone gets to experience the skilled trades in a unique, innovative way.

The VR headsets and hand controllers allow users to be transported to a day on the job of various skilled trade careers, including Welders, Electricians, Machinists and Sheet Metal Workers. Demos of these career simulations are available online.

Students and school staff have found the VR presentations engaging and informative. Denise Drake, a school counsellor at Aden Bowman Collegiate in Saskatoon wrote, “The VR simulation really helped engage the students in the presentation and it also helped bring students out to the presentation. Once students had attended the presentation, they had far more interest in the trades and apprenticeship in general and it also enhanced the knowledge of our school counsellors!”

For more information, or to book a VR classroom presentation, contact us at [email protected] or 306-787-2368.