WASHINGTON — The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers, announced today an ambitious new reskilling initiative that uses virtual reality to prepare transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses for careers in modern manufacturing. Built with immersive learning startup TRANSFR, the partnership is part of the MI’s Heroes MAKE America initiative, which provides members of the greater military community with the skills and certifications needed to excel in manufacturing careers.
As manufacturers lead our economic recovery, the demand for skilled manufacturing talent is greater than ever. According to the MI’s recently released skills gap study with Deloitte, by 2030, nearly 2.1 million jobs could be left unfilled and cost the U.S. economy an estimated $1 trillion.
“Veterans represent a sought-after pool of talent who bring many of the skills and aptitudes required for success in the manufacturing workforce,” said MI Vice President of Military and Veterans Programs Babs Chase. “This initiative will harness the power of simulation-based training to help service members rapidly translate their skills and experiences into the most in-demand skills needed in the industry.”
Since January 2021, Heroes MAKE America participants at the Fort Riley, Kansas, location have been supplementing their hands-on lab training with TRANSFR’s manufacturing simulations. More than 50 service members and military spouses have used the Oculus Quest for Business VR platform to learn the fundamentals required to succeed in the modern manufacturing workforce.
The Heroes program will also be expanding this test to a larger scale VR pilot with a fully remote training offering, including VR simulations, to support transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses at no cost regardless of physical location.
The MI is building out the remote-learning VR training in partnership with Texas State Technical College. This remote Heroes MAKE America pilot cohort will access hands-on, simulation-based training to prepare for in-demand roles in the manufacturing industry through training modules in precision measurement, plant safety, blueprint reading and construction safety, earning their Certified Production Technician certification through MSSC and OSHA 10.
Heroes virtual participants will receive the same holistic support and networking connections that are hallmarks of the in-person Heroes program, including transition guidance and placement support, as well as direct relationships with manufacturers.
Since its inception in 2018, Heroes MAKE America has graduated more than 550 participants, with a placement rate of close to 90% at more than 200 companies in 39 states. The program operates in-person training at Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Campbell, Kentucky; and Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
“Veterans often have a wealth of skills and aptitudes that they can readily repurpose into civilian industries, with the right type of training and career support. This work is about helping service members and soon-to-be veterans see how those skills can apply to the world of manufacturing work before they even start their transition,” said TRANSFR Founder and CEO Bharani Rajakumar. “We’re proud to play our part in supporting our men and women in uniform—and their families—in assisting with their transition from uniformed service to civilian careers in high-demand industries.”
The MI joins a fast-growing community of nonprofits, workforce agencies, community colleges and employers that are now leveraging the power of training simulations to boost employee performance, drive retention and help workers develop hands-on skills required for on-the-job success.
TRANSFR is a workforce development platform that uses simulation-based training to give students and job seekers the hands-on skills they need to get well-paying jobs. Together with community leaders, workforce development organizations, educational institutions and business and industry, it is building a classroom-to-career pipeline to raise up people, the organizations where they learn and work and the communities that they call home.
TRANSFR’s hands-on simulations provide an immersive learning environment that gives students and job seekers the real-world experience they need to choose a career path and then get trained to perform it. Guided by a digital coach, they receive expert, personal instruction that introduces them to different careers, teaches them how to perform essential tasks, gives feedback based on their specific actions and assesses progress toward mastery of skills in real time. Those who have partnered with TRANSFR have used the training to help job seekers understand their career options, develop more skilled workers, place more people in jobs and see improved job retention rates. For more information, visit transfrvr.com.
The MI grows and supports the manufacturing industry’s skilled workers for the advancement of modern manufacturing. The MI’s diverse initiatives support all workers in America, including women, veterans and students, through skills training programs, community building and the advancement of their career in manufacturing. As the workforce development and education partner of the NAM, the MI is a trusted adviser to manufacturers, equipping them with resources necessary to solve the industry’s toughest challenges. For more information on the MI, please visit www.themanufacturinginstitute.org