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Tradiebot has teamed up with the NSW Department of Education and key collision industry partners to launch a high school digital skills programme designed to engage the next generation of automotive apprentices.
Named Ready, Tradie Go, the initiative provides participants with the ability to try new trades using virtual reality (VR). The programme also brings together industry stakeholders and leading companies such as 3M, Axalta, Capital S.M.A.R.T and the Australian Association of Progressive Repairers (AAPR), which have collaborated to inform students about pathways to a collision industry apprenticeship.
According to Tradiebot, Ready, Tradie Go also allows industries to promote secure and evolving trade careers to prospective apprentices. The pilot programme focused on spray painting, but development on programmes for other trades such as metal and plastic welding are nearing completion.
Tradiebot says the pilot programme debuted in November, with 56 students across three high schools on the NSW North Shore using two of the company’s new Tradieforce VR consoles, one sponsored by NSW Education and the other by Axalta. The students ‘virtually painted’ a car, competing against one another to achieve a high score.
Training organisations are provided with access to an online portal that provides user-based analytics to assess student performance. The software captures and tracks individual metrics such as time taken, paint applied and area coverage when a student uses the Tradieforce console. The platform also stores data to measure student progress and records sessions to help trainers identify areas of concern.
Tradieforce VR training and assessment console.
From the initial participants, 38 students, together with their parents and teachers, signed up to attend the second stage of the programme. The students will visit the 3M Innovation Centre in Sydney in early 2021 to sample ‘hands-on’ collision-based skills.
Peter O’Doherty, Senior Project Officer at NSW Education Partnerships, said using remote digital solutions, such as those Tradiebot offers, enables training to be undertaken in real time, anywhere and at a time that suits each participant.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic having major impacts on not only the way we interact, but also daily business operations and travel, it has made traditional forms of training more difficult. Businesses and training organisations are now seeking new approaches to training to be able to provide staff with the necessary skills and understanding required to undertake work on the ever-changing, complex vehicles of today.
“By utilising virtual training, learner engagement is improved. With the real world disappearing when the user places on the VR headset, they become less susceptible to interruptions that may be occurring within the environment around them, ultimately becoming more engaged by the material and are more likely to retain the information displayed.”
Greg Preston, CEO of the Automotive Association of Progressive Repairers, participated throughout the pilot.
“It was encouraging to see a very strong interest shown by the students taking part in the pilot, something we have not seen for a while with other collision-based school programmes,” said Preston. “This could be the piece of the puzzle that the industry has been missing in recent [times] to attract new apprentices.
“Tradiebot has really delivered a fantastic product that allows students to be engaged with collision skills in the comfort of the classroom using the same virtual reality and gaming applications they interact with in modern day society whether it be at school or at home. Our members and the industry as a whole will greatly benefit from using such new innovative technology tools.”
Tradiebot’s SprayVIS Spray Painting Training Software.
According to Tradiebot, visiting training and innovation centres of industry-leading companies such as 3M and Axalta will allow school students to gain a true understanding of the benefits that a trade career offers and the avenues for skills and career progression.
Steven Brett, Managing Director of Axalta Coating Systems in Australia and New Zealand, said Axalta is committed to supporting students and the industry.
“The ‘Ready, Tradie Go’ initiative allows students to experience the rewarding and creative aspects of a career in vehicle painting without having to leave their school environment, introducing them to a career they may have not previously considered,” said Brett. “Through this interactive experience, we hope to ignite an interest in pursuing the vehicle painting trade and continue to help them grow and contribute to the industry’s future.”
Melanie Timmerman, Leader of Community Partnerships & Pathways at the Catholic Schools Office of Broken Bay, said Ready, Tradie Go was a great way for students at St Leo’s Catholic College to experience trade skills and career pathways in the collision industry.
“The hands-on approach, for students to use the virtual reality headsets to try their spray-painting skills, was an easy and fun way into the industry and an easy conversation opener of what other virtual training options are available and how this can lead into further industry discovery experiences,” said Timmerman. “I would recommend any school to try a programme like that of Tradiebot as it will inform and prepare students of the future career opportunities available to them, both during and after high school.”
With the addition of the Tradieforce mobile application, Tradiebot says students and job seekers with an interest in a trade career can acquire information and hear directly from potential employers and trade professionals. The app encourages users to create a profile, build their resume and apply for jobs in real time. Users can choose to connect with one another and share their success stories with others who may be thinking about starting a career within a trade-based industry.
The Tradieforce mobile app.
“This has been one of the most rewarding projects I have had the pleasure to be a part of, collaborating with our industry and education partners,” said Mario Dimovski, CEO at Tradiebot. “The Ready, Tradie Go programme is a great opportunity to showcase the advancements and opportunities that the collision industry offers, with numerous exciting career pathways available.
“I started my career as a tradesperson and evolved into an industry pioneer. This serves as a great example that having a trade background can lead to amazing opportunities. This would not have been possible if I hadn’t started my apprenticeship, worked my way through the trade, progressing into management roles and eventually starting up my own businesses.”
“We work in a great industry that is evolving with many exciting technology advancements and new career pathways to be created as vehicles transform into complex machines. This needs to be showcased and promoted using digital tools and out-of-the-box programmes to school kids, teachers and parents. Done right, we can overcome the skills shortage and re-ignite the flow of new apprentices.”
Tradiebot says plans are underway for Ready, Tradie Go to visit other NSW high schools, along with a broader skills programme within the high school network across all of Australia. The company adds that it is also exploring collaborations with its growing pool of international partners to expand the programme in 2021.