Interplay Learning, the leading provider of immersive skilled trades training, has joined forces with Lenoir Community College (LCC) to advance the mission of Centro Educativo Latino, its workforce development program, and increase access to the nation's first North American Technician Excellence (NATE) HVAC certification hybrid program in Spanish. Students now get online 3D simulation and VR training from Interplay, presented entirely in Spanish. This initiative aims to unlock opportunities for the Latino community of North Carolina, providing access to in-demand skilled trades jobs and marking a tide change in technical education offerings once typically reserved for English-led trade programs.
"For the longest time, the Latino community never had a place to go for higher education in the skilled trades," notes Carlos Cotto, director of Centro Educativo Latino and LCC's associate dean of workforce development and Latino programs. "This partnership with Interplay Learning is a significant step forward in providing our students with comprehensive, cutting-edge 3D simulation and VR training in their native language, ensuring they are industry-certified and well-prepared for the demands of rewarding careers and entrepreneurship."
Centro Educativo Latino at LCC is a cornerstone for the Hispanic community, offering over 70 Spanish-language workforce development courses, including the nation's first comprehensive NATE HVAC certification program in Spanish. The integration of Interplay's trades training platform is elevating its HVAC associate degree program by incorporating the latest in online 3D simulation and VR training delivered in Spanish. Students get hands-on practice with a wide variety of scenarios and equipment types in a safe, no-fail environment.
"Empowering the Latino community through accessible trades education aligns seamlessly with our mission," said Doug Donovan, CEO and founder of Interplay Learning. "We believe in the transformative power of education and technology, and this collaboration exemplifies our commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion in the workforce."
Centro Educativo Latino extends its commitment beyond linguistic accessibility by providing an affordable and flexible hybrid model of HVAC instruction, blending online and in-person learning. The program addresses the needs of individuals working full-time by offering weekend classes. A sliding-scale pricing model, supported by generous scholarships such as Train the East, ensures that education remains financially accessible to all. Emerging as a model for equitable education, the program now reaches 29 surrounding counties, with its popularity drawing students from out-of-state to participate.
Interplay's VR training creates a field-like virtual reality environment that enhances engagement and learning experiences during lab time. This approach addresses language barriers and caters to diverse learning styles, effectively preparing students for lucrative job opportunities, often sourced through the college's relationships with local employers.
The collaboration between LCC and Interplay Learning is poised to empower more individuals within the Latino community to access and excel in trades education, opening doors to new economic opportunities and fostering a skilled and diverse workforce.