Apprenticeship toolkit

Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and simulation

Digital technologies offer opportunities for apprentices to master skills in ways that are too costly or dangerous to undertake for real in the workplace.

  • Virtual reality: Where participants are immersed in an artificial environment
  • Augmented reality: Offers new ways for learners to discover supplementary information using mobile devices that cannot be seen by the naked eye

Tools for VR and AR range from simulation software costing tens of thousands to mobile apps that can be used with simple, low cost viewers such as Google Cardboard and a range of similar glasses.

Use of headsets resembles a gaming environment that is fun and motivating for apprentices. Digital technology can replicate situations such as seasonal conditions, allowing learning to take place all year round.

Examples of effective practice

PROCAT uses VR in its electrical training. A simulated environment allows the apprentice to move around a house. If they fail to observe required safety protocols when carrying out a task, the VR goes off with a bang without risk to the apprentice. They find that apprentices learn more quickly when they can be allowed to make mistakes.

PROCAT is also implementing VR in plumbing and construction and cybergloves in hairdressing.

S&B Automotive Academy has AR and VR software to help apprentices gain basic skills and practice safety protocols in paint spraying before attempting to do so for real. Each episode of this immersive workshop experience provides data on apprentices’ abilities. That information can be shared with the apprentices, and skills such as accuracy and dexterity can be developed and assessed much more quickly.

By using virtual and augmented reality, S&B Automotive Academy has reduced the time allocated to training apprentices in paint spraying techniques from two days to ten minutes. This represents cost savings of at least £13,000 per annum in terms of teacher time and consumables such as paint.

Read the full case study in our downloadable collection of case studies.