The metaverse provides an environment of infinite possibilities for students, lecturers, industry experts, and pretty much anybody, to connect and perform practical tasks together in a simulated and risk-free environment. Metaverse users —— Since preparing learners for the future of work is the core mandate of the Institute of The Future of Work (IFOW), it has committed to hosting the first Academic Virtual-Reality (VR) Studio at the IFOW headquarters in Hatfield, where learners can train and collaborate for product development and facility design. This will reduce the probability of mistakes, and costs of product development and will equip learners with hands-on skills. NASPERS provided two HTC Vive Pro VR headsets while The Rail Manufacturing Centre for Entrepreneurship Rapid Incubator (RMCERI) provided supplementary equipment such as monitors, computers, etc. Their collective contribution supports the development of VR content that addresses the socio-economic challenge of skills shortages in South Africa.

The VR Studio will be managed by the X-Reality (XR) Lab which plans to install 8 more VR Studios across all 8 remaining provinces to massify access to virtual environments and reduce the costs of developing technical skills, especially in TVET Colleges. For every VR Studio, the XR Lab installs the VR hardware at the selected host campus and trains the handlers on how to facilitate virtual experiences. This ‘train the trainer’ model enables the trainers to facilitate sessions with students from institutions that cannot afford to buy the equipment. Thus, transferring skills through the metaverse as well as empowering new career pathways, and entrepreneurial and job opportunities presented by the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR).

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