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Immersive Tech Can Improve Apprenticeships; New Report Outlines Three-Part Plan to Spur Adoption

WASHINGTON—Youth enrollment in apprenticeship programs is at an all-time high, and immersive technologies can improve such programs by making them more flexible, cost-effective, and safe, according to a new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the leading think tank for science and technology policy.

Although augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) technologies are primed to improve apprenticeship programs, many employers have been hesitant to adopt AR/VR because of immersive technology’s novelty, concerns over privacy, and the logistical hurdles that come with implementation. ITIF urges policymakers to help overcome those obstacles by facilitating the deployment of immersive technology in apprenticeship programs.

“Immersive technologies have already been helpful in supplementing classroom education and on-the-job training,” said Juan Londoño, author of the report and policy analyst at ITIF. “Those successes underscore how this tech can bolster U.S. apprenticeship programs.”

The report examines the state of apprenticeship programs in the United States, how AR/VR technologies are being used for and benefit on-the-job training, and how immersive technologies can improve apprenticeship programs. ITIF also identifies potential barriers to implementing the tech. The report presents a three-part plan for policymakers to boost the adoption of immersive technologies in apprenticeship programs:

  1. The Department of Labor (DOL) should update apprenticeship program standards to ensure that AR/VR-based training is recognized as valid practical training for certification purposes.
  2. Policymakers should support National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) programs that encourage the use of AR/VR technology in training and production processes. These programs help companies navigate some of the challenges associated with the implementation of novel technologies.
  3. DOL should promote the use of AR/VR technology in workforce development. Businesses might be hesitant to implement the technology due to its novelty, and an institutional push for the adoption of AR/VR tech could diminish that skepticism. For example, DOL should increase the number of AR/VR-focused events during National Apprenticeship Week.

“As apprenticeships grow, they should explore using technologies that workers will use in the future,” said Londoño. “Since most apprenticeship programs are managed or heavily influenced by state and federal governments, policymakers will play a huge role in these programs adopting immersive technology.”

Read the report.


The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute focusing on the intersection of technological innovation and public policy. Recognized by its peers in the think tank community as the global center of excellence for science and technology policy, ITIF’s mission is to formulate and promote policy solutions that accelerate innovation and boost productivity to spur growth, opportunity, and progress.

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