Last month, I attended the AHR Expo in Atlanta, Georgia. It's by far the world's largest HVACR marketplace.
With thousands of professionals in attendance, it was a good opportunity to have a few key meetings with OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturer), distributors and even some tool companies in the HVAC industry.
All in all, the theme was pretty consistent - everybody's looking for solutions to Workforce training to help address the industry skills gap.
We're seeing significant growth in interest in our Interplay Learning skilled trades catalog. Because we have a unique ability to solve workforce training issues from a new angle, businesses are looking to us to help solve their specific "skills gap" problem by improving their internal workforce training programs.
Until now, these HVAC businesses have relied on traditional training, including classroom and in-the-field training, which is time-consuming and costly. Let’s not forget those lengthy PowerPoint presentations, which are a bit dull to say the least. The exploration of Virtual Reality for these folks is exciting because it’s cheaper than traditional methods, more scalable, and more effective.
Virtual Reality (VR)
At the expo, there were a few examples of virtual reality being used, but it was mainly for marketing purposes. I can still see that VR isn't yet fully appreciated for the value it can bring to workforce training.
We like to think of it this way: VR allows you to get your “hands” in there, which has proven over and over again to be essential in learning a skilled trade like HVAC. Interplay Learning is taking the technology, and matching it up with an obvious need at the right time.
AHR is a very competitive conference to exhibit, so we actually had to sign up for 2020 already. I'm excited to be an exhibitor next year to show off our ability to tackle workforce training in the HVACR world.