The private-public partnership helps carry out Alabama’s strategy for the future of workforce development by using leading-edge virtual reality (VR) training solutions from Transfrvr, an education technology company focused on preparing people for jobs that will set them on a pathway to better lives.
ECS has begun incorporating workplace simulation and live work opportunities to students as young as third grade, offering unique opportunities all the way through high school.
“The incorporation of career exploration through virtual reality software will provide our elementary school students the opportunity to explore careers that they would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience until the middle or high school level,” said Joylee Cain, special education director for Enterprise City Schools. “Through concept-based curriculum units, our students are engaged in STEM through collaborative activities that require effective communication, problem solving and resilience.”
For students entering middle school, research has shown children can benefit most from career exploration, learning about potential careers and developing a plan for reaching goals. Using VR software, students are able to engage in high-interest, career-based activities using real-life scenarios, allowing them to explore areas of interest while developing substantive skill sets.
“These experiences help students, parents and educators to make more informed decisions regarding the selection of electives at the high school level and possible acceleration in dual enrollment courses at the community college level in career and technological education,” Cain said.
ECS plans to use Transfrvr software to incorporate career exploration modules for students with disabilities in grades nine through 12.
“Our primary focus with the software is to engage our students with disabilities in the educational setting in a way that incorporates real-world activities and applications to identify their potential areas of strength and career interest,” Cain said. “Once identified, we will develop an individualized VR training plan coupled with real-world, career experiences.”
Cain said having the opportunity to practice a skill with virtual coaching and then with guided support in the classroom will afford students a more robust experience that fosters success as they enter the workforce. “What an exciting opportunity to have the potential to change a student’s trajectory in life,” Cain said.
The JumpStartAL initiative offers new education and training programs in several Alabama school and university systems to develop the next generation of skilled workers.
The statewide network of partners for JumpStartAL includes the Alabama Community College System; Ready to Work, which is operated by Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT); the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education; the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development; the Business Education Alliance; Transfrvr; Shelby County economic development organization 58 INC; Central Six Alabama Works; and the Alabama Department of Commerce.
Alabama Power, Altec and Kamtek are among the private sector leaders of JumpStartAL. The statewide business community is supporting the initiative through job placement strategies and financial efforts.