Written by Ryan Ng, Human Performance Specialist and Organisational Psychologist.
With 90% of Australian businesses expecting a shortage of skills to be a moderate or higher risk adversely impacting their productivity (AIG & Deloitte, 2010), the lack of suitably qualified employees is becoming the main constraint on business expansion (Kompo-harms, 2014).
Retaining and up-skilling people is the key to producing outcomes essential for survival in today’s globalised and skills-based economy (Salas & Stagl, 2009). The last large-scale study by the Australia Bureau of Statistics estimated the cost of work-related training to be $4.02 billion in just 2002 alone, and training expenses have only continued to grow since.
Organisations are making greater investments in training programs, and for good reason. Effective training and transfer yields:
- Higher productivity and work quality,
- Greater motivation,
- Increased engagement, and
- Improved teamwork, all leading to a strong competitive advantage (Salas et al., 2006).
Yet, despite the increasing emphasis on training programs, businesses around the world report a failure to effectively develop the desired skills and anticipate future needs (IBM, 2008), with previous estimates suggesting that only 10 per cent of training expenditures transfer to the job (Georgenson, 1982).
This ‘transfer problem’ is hardly surprising, given that most training programs are conducted behind closed doors in environments where little parallels the real world, and trainers act mainly to dispense knowledge rather than involve and engage learners. Evidence repeatedly shows competencies acquired in training are far more likely to transfer to the job when learned and practiced in the work environment.
In today’s world of wearables, the answer could lie inside a small device. The advent of Virtual Reality in a box seems to have fallen into our hands in an exciting time, where businesses are starting to recognise and leverage the power of technology. Companies like Google were amongst the first to offer ‘Maps Streetview’, enabling us the experience of worlds outside our immediate surroundings, connecting us to places we have never been and transforming the way we travel. Similarly, BeingVR uses the power of Virtual Reality to conduct training in true-to-reality environments resembling actual workplaces.
Virtual Reality achieves realism so well, that a new term has been popularised for it that hasn’t been used for e-learning or simulations: immersion.