The Strathmore Family Resource Network (SFRN), Trellis, and the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth (USAY) have partnered up to host a unique type of job training for Indigenous youth.
USAY director Jennifer Fournier said the team is working to develop a virtual reality (VR) job training model to teach young people about what it’s like to be employed in certain workplaces.
“We’re creating an augmented reality skill base for Indigenous youth … the first one we did was the ‘working in a fast-food restaurant,’ and then we did a grocery store … and what we’re doing right now is we’re just beta testing everything with our Oculus’ (VR equipment),” said Fournier. “What we’re doing is we are coming out to youth organizations and getting them to try out our augmented reality to see how we can improve it.”
The project is currently in its beta stages and is intended to be fully operational within the next two years. At which time, it will be made available both to youth and employers to help build employable skill bases.
The idea is to adapt learning to the way youth like to learn as opposed to continuously offering static teaching methods that may not be the best way to approach modern youth.
“It’s like bridging the gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous people and then also a training for indigenous youth and employers,” said Fournier. “What we’re hoping is that our youth come out with the knowledge about what they can expect in the actual real world when you’re working at McDonald’s, or Wendy’s or wherever, flipping burgers, doing customer service, or using the POS machines.”
Reina Gardner, a youth worker with the Strathmore Family Resource Network, said the team is excited to be partnering with USAY both to contribute to the program and offer the unique experience to local youth.
“It’s not like your average employment readiness class or anything. It’s designed to be fun and something people want to do,” said Gardner. “This is the first time we’re doing something exactly like this … we do a lot of Indigenous-focused events and things, it’s a huge part of who we are as an organization, but this is the first time we’ve had a full-on virtual reality set.”
The target ages are 12 to 18 but interested parties outside those ages are welcome to attend.
A training event in Strathmore is scheduled for June 30 and any who are interested are encouraged to email Gardner at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, including time and location details.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times