Program for job seekers will use virtual reality

NEW technology will help job-hunters with “soft skills” such as communication, teamwork, leadership and job interview techniques under a council trial.

Southampton City Council is trying the Bodyswaps initiative which uses virtual reality and artificial intelligence to help people secure jobs and training.

It says the move is a response to increased demand from employers for “work ready” talent.

Bodyswaps is the first project in the council’s Future of Work programme, which aims to help residents and businesses respond to the challenge of increased digitisation.

Over the next six months, through a network of local organisations, learners will have unlimited access to the Bodyswaps platform, with support from professionals to help secure a job, apprenticeship or other “work-related outcome”.

Feedback from learners will help adapt the Bodyswaps project and shape future support in the city.

Sajid Butt, strategic skills manager at Southampton City Council, said: “It’s vital we have a range of support available to help residents – of all ages and backgrounds – acquire the skills employers are looking for.

“We’re delighted to be working with Bodyswaps to bring new ways of accelerating resident access to jobs generated across the city whilst demonstrating the benefits that smart use of technology can bring. We want an inclusive, revolutionary approach to deliver on the skills agenda as we pursue our growth ambitions for the city.”

Alex Scott, principal at Itchen College and a local partner in the Bodyswaps project, said: “Itchen College believes in raising ideas, improving life chances, and developing social mobility across the communities in which we work.

“We are constantly seeking new ways of engaging our learners and the Bodyswaps project provides us with a creative approach to the changing world of work that meets the needs of our young people and enables adults to develop the skills needed to achieve rewarding careers and fulfilling lives .”

Chris Mallet, chief executive and co-founder of Bodyswaps, said: “A good CV will get a candidate an interview but ultimately it’s the soft skills that will get them the job, and a fulfilling career after that.

“At Bodyswaps we believe that we can use virtual reality and artificial intelligence to provide everyone with a safe space in which to grow their skills and get a fair chance at achieving the professional success they deserve.

“By partnering with Southampton City Council, we will demonstrate that local authorities can leverage new education technologies to make a real difference to people’s lives – fast and at scale.”

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