As e-commerce sales are projected to hit $709.78 billion in the U.S. in 2020, logistics companies are turning to the virtual world to hire, onboard and train employees.
Prologis Inc.(NYSE: PLD), the world’s largest developer, owner and operator of logistics warehouses, is partnering with tech startup Strivr, which has developed a virtual reality-based platform, to provide hands-on learning and realistic decision-making practice to help workers maximize efficiency and reduce safety incidents.
Steven Hussain, director of community workforce programs for Prologis, and Derek Belch, founder and CEO of Strivr, discussed using virtual learning to train the industrial workforce of tomorrow during FreightWaves’ virtual Future of Logistics Real Estate Summit on Tuesday.
Belch, who originally developed his VR technology platform to train athletes, now uses the technology to help businesses train employees.
He compares his VR technology platform to train logistics workers to a pilot using a flight simulator to hone their craft.
“If you mess up, you’re not going to kill anybody, you’re not going to flush a $100 million asset down the drain,” Belch said. “You keep doing it again and again until you’ve proven that you can fly that plane without any mistakes.”
As the logistics industry continues to change at a rapid pace, Hussain said logistics workers must be equipped with the latest skills they need to do their jobs.
Prologis started its Community Workforce Initiative (CWI) nearly two years ago. Hussain said he was tasked with the goal of “upskilling,” or retraining 25,000 workers by the end of 2025.
“Working with our customers and learning solutions like STRIVR and others, we’re thinking about what’s the best way to train people and really go from tools that were once thought of as kind of a niche to what are really enterprise learning solutions,” Hussain said.
Bridging the gap between how the aging workforce and the younger generation learn is also key to successfully attracting and retaining employees, Belch said.
“That knowledge transfer is critical and the younger generations don’t necessarily learn the same way that the older generations learn, nor do they want to,” he said.
Belch added, “If you’re not speaking their language as an organization with tools like virtual reality, augmented reality and video conferencing, you’re behind.”