Realisation • 18 March 2022

Virtual Reality guides trainees to jobs in the food industry

How do you train people in the industry? You can do this in a classical training setting with an instructor or ...you can use virtual reality as an innovative training tool.

Tineke Codron (interregional project officer at VDAB ): "In the Huis van Voeding in Roeselare, we have organised a training programme for the low-skilled jobseekers for some time. The intention was to teach them how to operate a packaging machine in 2 weeks’ time. This period proved to be too short. Trainees had difficulty with the instruction steps, especially with applying the foil around food products. We also had only one machine at our disposal and one instructor had to serve five to ten trainees."

"We started analysing our training needs with the help of a decision tool. This way we have selected several innovative learning technologies. One of them was a VR application.”

"We have appointed a specialised company for the development of the VR simulation of the packaging machine. In essence, the trainees put on VR glasses and enter a virtual environment where they learn to operate the packaging machine step by step. At first, they may get a little bit dizzy, but once they get used to the glasses, they have a better understanding of the processes and how the machine works. Trainees have also more opportunities to practise the steps in this virtual environment. Hey also estimate more correctly what they can and cannot do. This also gives the trainees more self-confidence, which means they are less likely to drop out ."

"Also for the trainers, working with VR glasses requires adaptation. The trainers can always keep track of the learning process of the trainees. At the same time, they need to supervise the trainees more intensively than in a classical training setting."

This is one of the reasons why we decided to extend the training from two to six weeks. This way, the trainees are better prepared for the labour market. And that is necessary: these days, a packaging operator does not only operate a machine, but he often also supervises an entire packaging line."

The VR glasses do not make the instructor redundant, far from it, but the instructor becomes more of a coach than a teacher.

Tineke Codron - Interregional project officer at VDAB

"Together with the other project partners, we have organized demo sessions with our VR application for companies and training institutions. We see that there is a lot of interest for innovative learning tools in the industry.

Companies that wish to develop their own VR application need the support of experts with pedagogical and technical skills. And they have to be prepared to involve trainees and trainers in the development, and to offer them support afterwards. Despite these efforts, companies can achieve great training results with VR applications."