A digital skills high school program that uses Virtual Reality technology has been launched to find the next generation of automotive apprentices.
Developed by Tradiebot, a company specialising in high tech automotive repairs, the new Ready, Tradie Go! Initiative is being rolled out in conjunction with the NSW Department of Education.
The initiative brings together industry stakeholders and global leaders such as 3M, Axalta, Australian collision repairer group Capital SMART of the AMA Group and the Australian Association of Progressive Repairers (AAPR).
Together these stakeholders have collaborated to provide students information on pathways from the classroom to an apprenticeship within the collision industry.
The pilot debuted late last month across three high schools on the NSW North Shore using two of Tradiebot’s all new Tradieforce VR consoles – one sponsored by NSW Education – the other by Axalta.
About 56 students were to try their hand at automotive spray painting using the new technology.
They took turns painting a virtual car while competing against one another to paint the best car and achieve a high score.
The pilot shared promotional videos that showcased collision repair developments and a new-look industry featuring the SMART collision facilities, state-of-the art Axalta training centres and a view into what the future holds for advancements in vehicle technology by 3M.
This all works together to highlight potential careers in repairing or serving the vehicles of the future.
From the initial 56 participants, 38 students (31 boys and 7 girls) have signed up to attend the second stage of the program together with their parents and teachers. Here they will visit the 3M Innovation Centre in Sydney in early 2021 to try hand on collision-based skills.
The Tradieforce Console is a first of its kind offering that provides school students the very latest in portable VR hardware and software.
What makes this so highly engaging is the integrated gamification of learning the fundamentals of various automotive trades, with an initial focus on Spray Painting.
The console combines an Intel NUC microcomputer equipped with an elite graphics card together with an Oculus Rift S VR headset. They pair effectively with innovative Tradiebot software to generate interest.
“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 and mastermind of the program.
Mr Dimovski, who started his career at 16 as an automotive plastic repair apprentice, says the Ready Tradie Go program is a great opportunity to showcase the advancements and opportunities that the collision industry offers with numerous exciting career pathways available.
The program will help to overcome the skills shortage and re-ignite the flow of new apprentices, he says.
Plans are underway for Ready, Tradie Go! to visit other NSW high schools and the program could eventually be rolled out to high school networks across Australia.