iFood 360°

Virtual Reality Training for People in the Canadian Food and Beverage Manufacturing Industry

iFood 360°

As online learning has become the new norm during COVID-19, Food Processing Skills Canada is ready to deliver learning and training experiences that are just as engaging (or more so) than traditional classroom learning. Having offered e-learning and training solutions in a virtual setting for years, FPSC is in a unique position to make the next step into learning in a completely immersive environment with the use of virtual reality technology. Welcome to iFood 360°.

The iFood 360° program aims to develop and implement virtual reality learning experiences to transform traditional training practices in an essential sector that has been uniquely impacted by the Covid-19 global pandemic. Food Processing Skills Canada is adopting a new training strategy for the food and beverage manufacturing industry that is also innovative in design for small to medium-sized businesses. The focus is on three main areas:

  • Industry-specific technical skills
  • The essential skills of adaptability and emotional intelligence
  • Transferable skills in a career exploration context

With some exceptions, the overall impacts of COVID-19 on the Canadian food and beverage manufacturing workforce have been negative. To name a few, the industry has endured severe drops in business volumes, was forced to rapidly adapt work environments, and experienced major impacts on labour supply. Amidst these challenges, the industry proved its resiliency, though there is much to be done in order to overcome such setbacks.

iFood 360° follows the Learning and Recognition Framework’s model that illustrates clear learning pathways and skills requirements for jobs. Some other goals that this program will accomplish:

  • Integrate virtual immersive-learning experiences within on-line courses tailored for the food and beverage manufacturing industry within the COVID-19 context.
  • Develop scalable options for SME’s at the entry level technology implementation stage
  • Implement the initial two streams (operations; essential skills) with approximately 20 FBP employers in multiple regions across Canada with up to 400 participating workers.
  • Implement the third stream (career exploration) with approximately 10 post-secondary education and community stakeholder organizations with up to 200 participating jobseekers with transferrable skills.
  • Monitor and evaluate outcomes for the industry, organizations, and participating individuals.

Using virtual immersive-learning experiences as a training approach in the Canadian food and beverage processing industry is new, and adapting it to a diverse, SME context within the Canadian context is innovative. There is a growing body of evidence of the positive impacts of virtual immersive-learning experiences within an employment training context ranging from detailed technical training to advanced leadership training. The positive results include greater skill retention, higher levels of learner engagement, lower training costs, and lowering common training barriers. iFood 360° is the industries next step in recovery and supporting the people that feed Canadians coast to coast. Get ready for the new reality of the food and beverage processing workforce.

The iFood 360° project is funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre.