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Digital Experiences Modernize HVAC Training

January 19, 2021

In the past, organizations have struggled to entice people or create excitement when it comes to careers in HVAC. Recently, the boom of digital learning is supporting industry-leading companies like Rheem in reviving interest, drawing in a new generation of professionals and efficiently preparing workers for essential HVAC jobs.

Training in the Age of Digital Natives

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, 59% of the available U.S. workforce was between the ages of 19-39. Often referred to as “digital natives” or the “digital-first generation,” this population was born into and grew up in a world dominated by technology. Looking to technology for quick answers, digital natives jump in and start clicking, rather than waste time trying to figure something out by reading manuals.
While hands-on practice and trial and error have always been the best way to learn technical HVAC skills, problem solving for the digital-first generation must now include technology in the learning process. According to a report by PWC, digital learners complete training four times faster than classroom training, making the key to closing the skills gap a combination of in-person training and adopting digital experiential technology.

Digital Experiential Learning (DExL) for HVAC Training

In 2020, Rheem announced their goal to train 250,000 plumbers, contractors and key influencers on sustainable products or sustainable installation and recycling best practices — a massive undertaking that will be made possible through a strategic partnership with Interplay Learning. As the leading global provider of online training for skilled trades, Interplay Learning is helping Rheem to expand their online learning solutions for Rheem Academy and feature digital learning experiences at the core of how they prepare their workforce.

What is Digital Experiential Learning (DExL)?

Digital experiential learning, or DExL, is the process of learning through digital simulations or virtual experiences. DExL uses virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and 3D simulations to mimic in-the-field, immersive hands-on learning that includes installation, troubleshooting, maintenance, interaction and repair for complex systems, machinery and situations that are otherwise too costly, unsafe or unavailable for in-person training.

Interplay Learning Pioneers DExL in HVAC

Presently used by top HVAC companies industry-wide, pioneering immersive, experiential learning for HVAC. Taking education beyond traditional classrooms, Interplay’s learning platform is successfully opening up new, scalable pathways into HVAC careers with 3D simulations and VR training. Now, together with Interplay Learning, Rheem is leveraging DExL to bring HVAC education into the homes, offices and service trucks of contractors and members of their Pro Partners program.
The addition of Interplay’s catalog of HVAC training courses into Rheem Academy enables learning to be online, on-demand and presents hundreds of in-the-field scenarios the same way you would play a video game. This tech-forward approach motivates learners to return to their training, aids in retention, provides immediate feedback, and ultimately pushes learning forward in a safe and enjoyable way. Technicians can now experience simulations that feature custom, lifelike Rheem equipment like heat pumps, creating an even more enriched learning experience. With more than 4,000 online training course completions in 2020, Rheem Academy is now able to reach expanding numbers of technicians.
Through the power of immersive learning and gamification, Interplay is better preparing the new workforce for well-paying HVAC careers in a way that works for them. The new technology not only makes it fun for this new generation to learn using cutting-edge technology, they are also better trained as a result. To date, Interplay has trained more than 100,000 skilled trades professionals, has 1000+ customers and is on track to reach their goal to train 1M essential workers by 2024.

Rheem and Interplay Take on the Skills Gap

By partnering with Interplay Learning and adopting DExL, Rheem is setting new standards for how to prepare the tech-savvy workforce for HVAC careers. Not only are they enhancing the skills of technicians and installers, they are meaningfully advancing careers, and growing businesses for Rheem’s Pro Partners. By adopting modern, cutting-edge technology, Rheem is moving the industry forward, making it fun for the new generation to learn, and making training better, faster and more scalable as a result.
Interplay Learning is absolutely thrilled to join forces with Rheem to collectively tackle the skills gap and deliver the world’s most scalable and effective trades training to their entire ecosystem of HVAC technicians.