With a growing shortage of skilled labor in the United States compounded by a global pandemic, traditional training programs are unable to meet industry demand for skilled workers. The collaboration of Interplay Learning and NATE – industry leaders in skilled trades online training and HVACR certification, respectively – signifies the readiness of the trades to move into the future of training, safely.
"We are very excited to be partnering with NATE to help the HVAC industry train technicians more safely and effectively with online learning," said Doug Donovan, CEO of Interplay Learning.
The well-known format known as "micro-learning," which is at the core of the Interplay SkillMill platform, is now directly linked with a NATE credentialing program – available as preparatory classes for NATE's new certification program.
"Pushing the industry forward is a priority for the organization," said NATE Director of Testing and Education Anthony Spagnoli. "Offering remote online learning with a direct pathway to certification gives us an opportunity to modernize and expand."
NATE's rollout of a new, alternative certification pathway, Certified HVAC Professional (CHP-5), allows users to attain a NATE certification through shorter, topic-focused exams. The CHP-5 offers a series of short, 30-question exams on functional areas of the trade as an alternative to the longer, more comprehensive, CORE and Specialty exams. While both programs cover the same material, this new offering provides technicians a more flexible path to training and earning certification.
The current collaboration is possible today because Interplay Learning's job-relevant virtual technical training aligns with NATE's goal to measure the on-the-job competency of technicians. Both organizations recognize that the intent is not to replace hands-on training, but to offer a model of learning that promotes skill advancement and measurement.
"This flexible model supports hands-on training efforts and makes that time more valuable and efficient," said Donovan. "In a simulated training, you can practice hundreds of in-the-field scenarios in one session that might take years to see in the field."
3D simulations and VR-based training reinforce and add to hands-on training, yielding job-relevant skills that pave the path to certification. Through the micro-learning format, Interplay's accessible online training puts technicians in control of advancing their careers. NATE's matching CHP-5 certification exam series allows technicians to build skills and ramp-up credentials at higher rates than the traditional pathways have allowed.