Virtual Reality: Next-Level Job Training

Written BY

Emily Friedman

July 5, 2017

There’s no question “job creation” is a hot topic in America today. Certain industries have been slowing down (ex. manufacturing, oil) or even dying out (ex. coal,) while new ones like clean energy and energy storage are growing to meet new needs and demands. In fact, more U.S. workers today are installing solar panels on rooftops than mining coal or extracting oil and gas. Automation isn’t solely to blame for this, nor are jobs necessarily being eliminated or moving overseas: It is our resources and needs that are changing, forcing manufacturing and oil jobs to evolve with the times, and new jobs requiring new skills to be created. Nevertheless, companies are struggling to fill their ranks, especially as the baby boomer generation hits retirement age. There is a shortage of both skilled and unskilled labor today to which American industry needs a solution.

To enterprises struggling to maintain or grow their workforces, Virtual Reality offers a powerful new paradigm for learning and capturing knowledge. Businesses are leveraging VR to train workers of all skill levels, ranks, backgrounds and work environments, from restaurant servers to astronauts, pilots and surgeons. With immersive VR headsets and customized software, job training can be more effective, less expensive and safer than traditional methods. Read how organizations both small and large are training employees in Virtual Reality:


By the end of 2017, the world’s largest retailer plans to provide VR instruction in every one of its 200 U.S. “Walmart Academy” training centers, making Virtual Reality an integral part of training 140,000 Walmart employees annually.

With startup STRIVR Labs, Walmart has developed a collection of virtual training experiences on topics like management and customer service to supplement traditional training methods. Each Walmart Academy will be outfitted with an Oculus Rift headset and gaming PC system. The VR content will consist of scenarios up to five minutes long, with interactive on-screen cues prompting trainees to make decisions in situations they might encounter in real life.

In one scenario, the user gets to virtually experience the Black Friday rush, while in another he or she scans the produce and deli sections of a store, learning to spot problems like missing prices and how to help customers. Walmart’s VR training program began as a pilot in thirty of its training centers.

*Walmart’s Brock McKeel will be speaking at the Fall 2017 Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit, along with innovators from Coca-Cola, Audi, Staples, Gulfstream, and more.

United Rentals

United Rentals is the largest equipment rental company in North America, providing thousands of pieces of equipment and tools for industrial and construction sites. To train its sales staff, United Rental takes new hires through a weeklong training program, in which they’re given lectures and shown pictures of worksites. But the company has recently been testing Virtual Reality to complete the training in half that time, and make it more memorable.

In United Rentals’ VR training scenario, new employees have two minutes standing on the edge of a virtual construction site to observe and determine what equipment is missing; as soon as the site manager (an avatar) approaches, they have to make their sales pitch. For example, if the user were looking at an excavation filled with water, he or she would learn to recognize the opportunity to rent a pump to that customer.

United Rentals plans to train more seasoned employees in addition to new hires using VR technology.


This Oshkoch Corporation company designs, manufacturers and markets lift equipment for use in all industries. As one might imagine, job training at JLG can be dangerous. For instance, workers have to learn how to operate boom lifts from platforms that can be up to 185 feet above the ground. Virtual Reality presents a much safer and even more efficient way to train multiple operators at once.

With ForgeFx Simulations, JLG developed a networked training system simulator, allowing trainees from all over the world to operate machines in the same virtual reality construction site at the same time. This style of virtual group learning is far safer than training on real machines. Already, 50 of JLG’s customers have expressed interest in the program.


Honeygrow is a Philadelphia-based upscale fast-food chain serving farm-to-fork stir-fry and salads. Before the privately-owned restaurant expanded, its owner would personally welcome all new hires. Today, there are 17 Honeygrow locations from Washington to Brooklyn, and still more in the process of opening. New workers are given a written manual, and initial training is largely left up to local managers.

Seeking a better way to introduce new employees to the corporate culture and teach them best practices, Honeygrow partnered with Klip Collective to create a unique virtual reality onboarding program that could be used at all of its locations. Wearing VR headsets, trainees are greeted by Honeygrow’s owner in a virtual restaurant; they hear the company philosophy, go on an interactive tour of the restaurant, and play a game to learn food-prep techniques and important health safety information.

Honeygrow has found that learning-by-doing in a virtual environment helps new workers grasp and retain their training. In the future, the restaurant may explore the use of Augmented Reality in addition to VR, which would allow trainees to do hands-on food prep with superimposed directions and a timer.

Augmented and Virtual Reality may be the answer to the current and impending labor shortage. Immersive technologies are useful for quickly and effectively training new workers (as well as recruiting them,) and even a company’s most experienced employees require training at various points in their careers. While VR allows workers to train in a virtual simulation of the workplace; AR (and also Assisted Reality) enables on-the-job and just-in-time training, begging the question: Will the future connected worker even need training?

About EWTS Fall 2017:

The Fall Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit 2017 taking place October 18-19, 2017 in Boston, MA is the leading event for wearable technology in enterprise. It is also the only true enterprise event in the wearables space, with the speakers and audience members hailing from top enterprise organizations across the industry spectrum. Consisting of real-world case studies, engaging workshops, and expert-led panel discussions on such topics as enterprise applications for Augmented and Virtual Reality, head-mounted displays, and body-worn devices, plus key challenges, best practices, and more; EWTS is the best opportunity for you to hear and learn from those organizations who have successfully utilized wearables in their operations.

Further Reading