(NewsUSA) – How a Pennsylvania Trade School Achieved a 100% graduation and pass rate on the NOCTI state exam
As the U.S. workforce struggles to fill a massive labor gap in the skilled trades industry, the fact that many skilled tradespeople are approaching retirement age only amplifies the problem. As older workers retire, there need to be more younger workers to replace them; workers that feel confident and ready for entry-level roles in the trades.
The Indiana County Technology Center (ICTC), located in Indiana, Pennsylvania, is filling this void of candidates in the HVAC field by teaching students with a best-in-class training approach.
DJ Mumau, HVAC instructor at ICTC, noticed the skill gaps issue when he previously worked in the industry and realized that at the age of 30, he was the youngest person amongst his coworkers.
When he joined ICTC, he faced several challenges. Student knowledge was hard to assess, personalized feedback was hard to deliver, lesson planning was time-consuming and student follow-through was unmanageable. As program enrollments grew, Mumau experienced challenges with the reach, scalability and effectiveness of course instruction.
Recognizing the need for additional resources, Mumau researched supplemental training tools to prepare his students for HVAC roles upon graduation and landed on Interplay Learning, an online provider of training for skilled trades that includes virtual reality and 3D simulations.
“I realized it had everything I needed; I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel,” he said. “I started with a handful of seats for a few students to trial, and today, each one of my students has an Interplay account that they start using from day one through to graduation,” he said.
Mumau teaches his students in the classroom or does a lab demonstration, then assigns them an Interplay course where they can interact with the same concepts through images, videos and diagrams outside of the classroom. Students then apply what they have learned in hands-on shop sessions.
Integrating Interplay’s simulation courses into the curriculum gives students a clear and objective roadmap to practice their skills and competencies, preparing them to pass state exams and credentialing requirements, achieve multiple industry certifications, and land entry-level jobs.
On-going practice and repetition of fundamentals in a 3D environment accelerate the student’s ability to work with specialty tools and live HVAC/R equipment in the lab.
Key successes of the program include improved student learning retention with online, supplemental HVAC courses that reinforce lectures and lab assignments, elevated lab performance, successful outcomes in state exams and increased post-grad job placements.
By supplementing classroom training, Mumau has lightened his administrative load. He automates assignments and tracks grading and student evaluations in one place. He was also able to decrease damage to lab equipment and reduce materials costs through the use of immersive equipment simulators.
How does this investment into supplemental tools translate into measurable results? 100% of students graduated with at least one industry-recognized certification, 100% of graduates passed the state NOCTI exam with Advanced or Proficient overall scores and 81% of graduates continue in the HVAC field or post-secondary education!
“We’re not a huge town, but there’s a decent amount of companies around, and we try our best to do our part to prepare and place kids into the workforce,” says Mumau.
As other trade skills programs look to be a credible provider of qualified candidates to fill the workforce void, equipping instructors with training tools that engage students and complement classroom training is a powerful path to producing the best program outcomes. Interplay’s easily accessible platform allows students to view, train, and practice their skills on any device, or in virtual reality. “The result is a highly trained employee who is job-ready in weeks, not years,” according to the company.
You can learn more about Interplay Learning here.
Austin-based Interplay Learning is the industry leader in immersive training solutions for the skilled trades. Featuring expert-led videos, hands-on 3D simulations, knowledge checks, and personalized learning paths, Interplay’s training platform is more scalable and engaging than traditional training. Leveraging advanced technologies like AI and VR, Interplay is reshaping the future of online skilled trades training, delivering highly effective learning experiences that result in better careers and better lives.