Virtual Accessible Training and Skills Development

In the evolving landscape of workforce development, numerous organizations are taking on the challenge of bridging the skills gap in the skilled trades sector. Industries face a growing shortage of qualified workers and being able to meet these demands and also provide accessible, flexible training for future professionals is critical for not only these companies and the economy but also the planet

We’ve seen exciting developments in unique community partnerships that impact school models, apprenticeship programs, career exploration starting in elementary school, client projects, but there is also a huge, scale-friendly opportunity in tech innovation. 

Why Technology Solutions?

Traditional educational pathways (trades such as HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and construction) often require significant time and financial investment, which can be barriers for many potential learners. Many career academies provide students with the foundations of these trades, but frequently these academies have access challenges — namely, they can only serve so many of the districts’ students at one time and transportation can often be a hurdle. To accommodate this, many workforce development experts have been optimistic about the rise of virtual and augmented reality — online training programs that offer immersive, hands-on learning experiences. These radically accessible tools have the potential to provide learners with the practical skills and certifications needed to enter the workforce quickly and confidently.

While this technology has, perhaps, grown slower than many forecasted, new partnerships are forging a pathway for learners and members of the workforce looking to upskill from anywhere. These partnerships highlight the collaboration between educational institutions, industry partners, and community organizations is essential. 

One example of this is Interplay Academy, an initiative of Interplay Learning. This solution empowers other organizations to implement trades certificate programs, enabling learners to gain skills in their chosen field, earn industry certifications, and connect with employers to take on in-demand entry-level roles confidently. 

“We found that many community and workforce development organizations were searching for streamlined, scalable programs to help people enter in-demand trade careers. They had incredible, dedicated program managers serving their communities, but several did not have access to technical experts in their region or access to experts with enough extra time to serve the needs of both the community members and future employers,” said Ariana Dugan, VP of Product at Interplay Learning. “We created Interplay Academy to bridge that gap.”

Industry Skills

“Interplay Academy’s Job-Ready Certificate Programs represent a significant leap forward in skilled trades education where there is a shortage of qualified skilled labor,” said Doug Donovan, CEO and Founder of Interplay Learning. “Our holistic approach provides a direct pathway to job-readiness, empowering educators and workforce development program administrators with the tools needed to pave the way to future careers for learners. We believe these programs will play a pivotal role in developing a pipeline of talent for the skilled trades workforce of the future.”

Industry Certification

Interplay Academy has partnered with several community and workforce development organizations, including those that help unemployed or underemployed at-risk youth and adults, and is also available for use in secondary CTE programs. 

Interplay Academy’s Job-Ready Certificate Programs in HVAC, Electrical, Plumbing, Residential Construction, Multi-Family Maintenance, Building Maintenance, and Appliance Repair feature a flexible, expert-led curriculum, recognized by the Department of Labor, to effectively prepare today’s digital-first learners to enter the workforce. 

Our courses were submitted to the DOL as part of our Registered Apprenticeship Programs and were approved, which ensures they align properly with industry standards. Using that same content as part of our Interplay Academy gives learners confidence that as they pursue a career in the trades, they are receiving knowledge from a quality program. 

In addition to earning an Interplay Learning Job-Ready Certificate, learners enrolled in Interplay Academy’s programs can earn industry-recognized certifications, including NATE Ready-to-Work certification, OSHA 10 or 30 certifications, and EPA 608 certification, enhancing a graduate’s employability. 

Career Exposure and Exploration

Learners, who may need additional assistance choosing a career path, can take advantage of the programs’ career exploration tool to align their chosen path to their interests and career aspirations. When a learner completes the program, they can connect with employers through Interplay Learning’s partnership with BlueRecruit, a leading job platform for skilled trades professionals.

These partnerships ensure that training programs are aligned with current market needs and that graduates possess the skills employers are looking for. Moreover, connections with local businesses and job placement services can facilitate smoother transitions for graduates into the workforce, addressing employer needs more directly. To date, Interplay Academy has served more than 15,000 learners.

Mason Pashia

Mason is the Creative Director at Getting Smart. He is an advocate for arts education, strategy, design thinking and poetry.

Discover the latest in learning innovations

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.