Building vocational skills faster with innovative 3D simulations

by | Oct 11, 2012 | Case Studies, Evidence for Change

Double award winner Train4TradeSkills use of creative gaming technology transforms trainees into a confident workforce & reduces costs!

It’s not difficult to see why Train4TradeSkills became double award winners in the 2011 elearning awards. Faced by the challenges of increasing trainee engagement and reducing costs, Train4TradeSkills took the bold decision to adopt innovative 3D simulated learning technology and leave behind the tried and tested, but slightly ‘tired’, paper text book approach to getting their cohort job-ready.

If you are looking for inspiration and encouragement for ways in which games technology can accelerate the learning process and reduce the costs of training, then Train4TradeSkills will offer you a new perspective and insight into this learning environment.

The challenge

The challenge that they faced was to find an innovative method of training apprentices and adult returnees that would retain their interest and enthusiasm, and provide rapid formative feedback to raise their flagging confidence levels.

With over 500 students at any one time studying a range of building skills – plumbing, joinery, plastering and even traditional trades such as stone masonry and thatching – Train4TradeSkills’ overall objective was clear, to increase achievement; and this was accomplished by:

  • Engaging the user and increasing user confidence
  • Decreasing peer pressure
  • Providing a safe environment in which to learn the more dangerous elements of trade skills
  • Making hands-on learning easily accessible and providing greater flexibility for the learners

In addition the project aimed to:

  • Increase profits by the reduction of waste and the increase in student throughput
  • Reduce the cost to the environment
  • Provide a learning platform where traditional trades, could be taught cost-effectively, and become more easily accessible
  • Increase the speed of production of highly effective 3D virtual reality training appropriate across a multitude of skill sets.

The learning solution

Train4TradeSkills took a radical approach: it developed a 3D interactive virtual environment in which learners could practice using the tools of their trade using an innovative hand-held device – the Unanomote – which became the mode of operation for all the tools within the virtual world.

Note from the Editor – Evidence for Change

We have included this story in our Evidence for Change  programme . The impact of the new technology and approach to training upon the trainees and the organisation has been impressive:

For trainees

  • Those who practiced their skills in the virtual simulation showed a greater degree of familiarity with the tools and processes involved.
  • The system met all its objectives, increasing the confidence and engagement of learners, allowing them to succeed, free from peer pressure and fear of failure.
  • The system also brings significant benefits in reducing the risk of injury as the student is better prepared before they enter the workshop.

Upon the business

  • Costs spent on copper pipe assets (used in training) reduced by 20%, a cost saving of £10,000 p/a
  • Time spent training reduced by 10-30% – This system reduced the amount of time that a student needed to spend in class by an estimated 10% and in the workshop by 30%, resulting in a possible savings of £90,600 for the education of a full class


This case study has been independently investigated and developed by Towards Maturity as part of our Good practice Partnership with e.Learning Age and the e.Learning Awards..It was first published in e.Learning age Magazine in 2012.

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