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Ruth Hill, PhD Head of Learning Design

VR increases students’ access to careers guidance

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UK job opportunities for young people are in crisis

Even before COVID-19 struck, young people were already bearing the brunt of the job shortage. Of 3.5m jobs created in the last decade, over 73% were considered too senior for students fresh out of school or university and 15% were classified as low-skilled, leaving just under 12% that were deemed suitable for college leavers.

Now, the coronavirus pandemic has made job prospects for young people harder still, with 61% of employers cancelling some or all student placements, saying that they will hire fewer or no university graduates at all this year. Even some of the UK’s biggest employers (Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC and PWC among them) have cancelled or delayed recruitment schemes and internships.

With fewer job opportunities available for young people, social mobility charity the Sutton Trust is calling for universities to make careers guidance fully accessible online to give students help and support, even when they are unable to come to campus.

Careers services already under pressure

With many university league tables ranking institutions’ graduate employability, university careers services are already under pressure to strengthen their students’ prospects for employment.

As the costs of going to university rise, the ‘return on investment’ that a degree brings after graduation has become a more pressing concern. Careers services are expected to advertise more jobs and provide more access to employers, as well as upping their game with placement and intern support.

There is also growing demand from students for access to information and support 24/7 and many careers services are responding by offering information resources and advice online.

“The Heads of Careers Services I’ve spoken with have identified two key challenges: student engagement and staff resources.”
Christophe Mallet, CEO, Bodyswaps

While many educational institutions still offer students the opportunity to practise their interview skills in mock interviews, only about a third of graduates have completed even a short, 10-minute practice with a careers counsellor before their first real interview. 

Increasing engagement 

Students who don’t actively seek help with careers guidance are falling through the net. These graduates are more likely to struggle to find work than those who proactively utilize the available support. Careers services need to find ways to engage these members of the student population who don’t actively seek help. 

French business school NEOMA, who pioneered the use of VR in the classroom in 2016, recently published results of a new survey to evaluate the impact VR has had on its students

“... the results reveal the benefits of using Virtual Reality not only for a better learning experience, but also for student engagement… Students showed significantly higher feelings of motivation, commitment and pleasure in learning.”
Alain Goudey, Director of Digital Transformation, NEOMA Business School

Many educators advocate the engaging learning experience offered by immersive technology as one of its biggest advantages. Bringing Virtual Reality into the blend has been seen to enhance student engagement in other areas of the curriculum, so it’s highly likely that VR can have similar benefits for interview skills training. 

Making interview skills training accessible anywhere, anytime

Because of their close links with recruiters, careers services are already good at embracing digital media. 

Even before global lockdown made online learning resources a necessity, many colleges and universities had begun to offer online coaching for competency-based, behavioural video and telephone interviews, with realistic mock interviews and expert sample answers telling candidates what to say. 

These allow students to practise answering difficult interview questions online in their own homes, but performance feedback from these tools can be limited. In Virtual Reality, detailed semantic and behavioural data can be captured, analysed and shared back to the learner, allowing students to practise their interview skills with unparalleled guidance and feedback anywhere, anytime.  

No longer an expensive niche technology, VR interview simulators can be powered by £300 lightweight VR headsets. Many institutions already have at least a small number of VR headsets in their ‘learning labs’ and there is a strong appetite for future investment in the necessary hardware. In a recent survey, 82% of responding lecturers, researchers and learning technologists in UK universities and colleges expressed an interest in using more immersive learning solutions. 

Additionally, students increasingly have access to their own Virtual Reality headsets that can be used for learning, with ownership levels currently outstripping those seen for wearables and tablets at the same stage of their lifecycle.  

Affordable, scalable and blended careers guidance

In today’s offering, VR interview skills training is affordable, scalable and can be blended seamlessly into the students personal development curriculum. Meaning that students can learn anytime and anywhere - not just in the Careers Services office a few days before the real thing. 

With careers teams struggling to dedicate the time and resources needed to give all students continuous support and repeated practice opportunities, VR interview simulators offer a fantastic way to increase students' access to careers guidance and grow success.

Bodyswaps' Job Interview Simulator

The Job Interview Simulator uses Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence to guide learners through essential interview techniques. Through 4 modules, learners receive tailored guidance and personalised coaching on essential techniques like managing anxiety, connecting personal characteristics to the job description, and how to construct the perfect answer to practically any question, before attempting the ultimate interview simulation.

Find out more about the Job Interview Simulator and download a free demo today.

 

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