Virtual-Reality Training Aims to Help Growing Demand in Skilled Trade Jobs 

by Mike Hunter 

StrataTech Education Group, a leading operator of skilled trade schools, recently launched a virtual reality training program called OcuWeld. The program, which uses Oculus Quest 2 technology, is among the first to use this revolutionary technology for students to practice welding skills outside of the classroom. 

The program launches at a time when demand for skilled trade workers is at an all-time high in part due to the recently passed Infrastructure Bill. The bill, combined with President Biden’s Build Back Framework, will add an average of 1.5 million jobs per year for the next 10 years, according to The White House. 

OcuWeld is a new and innovative virtual reality (VR) welding simulator designed from the ground up by expert welding instructors for welding students. The program allows students to learn the time-consuming and highly physical tasks of prepping, grinding, and joining materials in a virtual environment that mimics classroom lab training. 

Following a first launch last December at Tulsa Welding School in Tulsa, Okla., OcuWeld was launched earlier this year here in Phoenix at The Refrigeration School, which was founded in Phoenix in 1965 to train students for sustainable HVAC careers, and StrataTech plans to roll it out to all other StrataTech campuses later this year.

Fueled by what has been coined “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” many companies are also looking to upskill employees to keep up with new demands as technology changes. As StrataTech continues to develop educational content for OcuWeld, it will look to partner with other educational institutions and businesses whose skilled tradesmen and women require specific training or continuing education. 

The growing pace of digitization is shifting the paradigm of education to lifelong learning that requires a continual evolution of technical skills and training. Says Chase Lane, VP of transformation for StrataTech, “It’s time that higher education meets the needs of its students rather than vice versa. Digital is transforming education, and ensuring that these technological advances reach the skilled trades is extremely important to StrataTech and vital to the growing needs of our labor force.”

Did You Know: OcuWeld is the first-of-its-kind product to provide welding students with a take-home toolkit that grants them access to hours of welding practice without the expensive in-person tools from the classroom. The program launches at a time when demand for skilled trade workers is at an all-time high in part due to the recently passed Infrastructure Bill.

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