Deinerstertag.de – Exploring workplaces with virtual reality
Topic: Digital Solutions for Employment Services
Studio2B, a German social enterprise creating innovative solutions in the field of job preparation and orientation (www.studio2b.de), has developed the tool.
The tool has three main target groups:
- School teachers: German schools typically offer professional guidance in grades 7-9 (at the age of 13-15 years). Teachers usually lack any attractive materials that explore potential work places. They only have standard texts that describe various potential occupations.
- School students: at the age of 13-15, school students begin to think about any potential training and professional careers they would like to follow, but they have no in-depth insight into the full range of options available.
- Companies: due to an increasingly severe skills shortage in Germany and an ageing working population, companies are very interested in attracting potential skilled employees to their companies as early as possible (employer branding).
The tool fulfils the following objectives:
- to provide school students with professional guidance tailored to their age group so they can soon begin to explore potential work places;
- to introduce modern technological tools to schools and students in view of the increasing digitisation of the world of work;
- to provide realistic insights into the daily work routine at various companies;
- to provide information on alternative training and career options outside the students’ environment;
- to reduce the skills shortage by guiding students towards occupations where there is the highest demand for labour;
- to provide support to companies on how best to approach students as future potential skilled workers.
The ‘deinerstertag.de’ tool combines employer branding with a playful and innovative approach to professional orientation. It bridges the gap between companies that are very interested in establishing early contact with future skilled labour and schools that are considered neutral spaces devoid of advertising or other influences, but that are in great need of attractive tools that provide professional guidance.
Using virtual reality (VR) technology and equipment makes this job orientation tool particularly interesting for pupils as it allows them to explore a large number of potential work places quickly and in an enjoyable way. They can also research occupations they had not previously considered.
The 360° videos use a student-to-student approach. Up to three of the company’s apprentices guide the audience virtually through several of the company’s divisions and provide insight into the work environment, daily tasks and atmosphere in the workplace.
The tool covers a broad range of occupational profiles in a range of economic sectors, from manufacturing and cultural institutions to the police, hotel, retail, energy supply and nursing. So far, over 40 videos have been produced for different occupations and 30 more are in development. Each video is 3-5 minutes long, the optimal length of an audience’s attention span.
The videos and required VR materials (smartphones, VR glasses) are loaned to the schools free of charge for seven days. In the first 12 months of providing this service, more than 1,200 schools across Germany applied for the 80 VR sets.
The companies are closely involved in developing the concept and script for the virtual company tour ensuring a realistic insight into the actual work environment being shown. The companies can choose between different financial models, ranging from buying the film and using it for their own purposes to an annual fee for showing the film on the deinerstertag.de platform.
The following activities are required to develop and disseminate the 360° videos:
- pro-active contact with potential companies and negotiating potential price models;
- developing scripts for the virtual tours;
- 360° filming, post-production;
- developing a concept and procuring materials for the VR sets for schools;
- managing contact with schools;
- logistical management of sending VR sets to schools across Germany.
A range of different expertise and resources is required in line with the activities described above:
- marketing staff in charge of pro-actively contacting companies and promoting the tool;
- key account managers to develop the concept for the 360° videos with the companies and negotiate price models;
- pedagogical and film experts drafting scripts for the virtual tours;
- technical staff to produce and edit 360° videos (in-house or outsourced);
- staff required to coordinate with schools and organise logistics (despatching the VR sets to schools and follow-up on returning them);
- staff for general communication and visibility activities.
In addition, funds are needed to procure the technical materials for the VR sets (smartphones, VR glasses) and to post them to the schools.
The following results were achieved in the first months of implementing the tool:
- monthly access rates of approximately 14,500 to the tool’s website, of which 5,000 users accessed a video;
- most popular videos on the website (since January 2018): 1) Salesperson (over 400,000 clicks), 2) police (360,000 clicks), 3) professional for waste and recycling (290,000 clicks);
- so far, more than 1,000 schools across Germany have expressed an interest in obtaining a VR box (VR glasses, smartphones and 20 films);
- very positive and grateful feedback from teachers who used the VR boxes (‘highly appreciated by the students’, ‘innovative method’).
- Keep it simple for schools: the high level of interest among schools can partially be explained by the innovative and target group-oriented approach, but also by the fact that the VR set is provided free of charge without having to go through complicated administrative application procedures. It is also vital not to rely on an internet connection in the schools but to provide an offline solution (upload films on smartphones provided with the box).
- Build trust with companies: the process showed that it is essential to invest time in building trust with companies. Essentially, they are opening up their internal divisions to a wide audience without being able to control the target group’s perception (e.g. no discussions with students). Producing some free initial samples about a range of companies can help to explain the tool and build a critical mass.
- Gradually build up the tool: part of the reason behind the tool’s success was its trial-and-error approach. The team launched the virtual 360° videos without a fully-fledged concept. Throughout the process, they were flexible in reacting to interest as it arose and could thus quickly cater to relevant needs without being constrained by pre-defined approaches and goals.
- Ensure a target group-oriented approach: the tool is very appealing to the students as it offers guidance and presents the information in an enjoyable manner, while also incorporating student–to–student perspectives and language.
- Make sure the virtual tour is realistic and not a marketing tool for the company: one of the main challenges in the virtual tours is their credibility. While they should certainly be presented in a positive way to attract future skilled workers, they should not take the form of a campaign to promote the company’s image, but rather provide a realistic insight into the company’s daily work routine.
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