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Concurrent Engineering Blog

How AR helps narrow the skills gap in the pandemic and beyond

Posted by Concurrent Engineering on 08-Jul-2021 09:30:00

During the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, augmented reality made industrial production possible. As we emerge, expected AR to go to another level. 


Most industrialised countries are experiencing a skills gap, where there are not enough people in the workforce with the skills companies need in the 21st century. This problem is exacerbated by an ageing population with more retirements, immigration restrictions and issues inherent in the education system. COVID-19 presented industry with a new challenge, where many workers were not allowed to travel or gather in workplaces in large groups. 


During the pandemic, augmented reality was effective in solving many of these problems. As we emerge into a new, different working environment, AR could play a massive part in smoothing the transition. In this article, we’ll look at some examples of AR’s use during the pandemic and outline other instances where it can help.


AR in the pandemic

The unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic meant companies had to innovate to survive. As a result, businesses that had never used AR before, or had only previously dipped their toes in the water, suddenly saw its value.


Many companies pivoted to meet new demands during the pandemic, such as manufacturing PPE. AR solutions that superimpose digital information onto physical objects in the workplace helped frontline works transform their output. 


Another example concerns ventilators, which were in huge demand during the pandemic. As part of the VentilatorChallengeUK initiative, existing ventilator manufacturers used AR to create instructions to produce ventilators, which they sent on to aerospace and car makers who could use their facilities to boost ventilator production.


AR also made production smoother when workers could not travel. Companies could use AR to provide remote technical support to facilities across the globe without having to send experts to sites. 


smart manufacturing


Beyond COVID-19

COVID restrictions are being lifted across the world, but the world of work will never be the same again. Many companies will maintain elements of remote working for their staff. There will also be much less international and long-distance travel. 


AR can help support this transition - while narrowing the skills gap - in several ways, including:

  • Onboarding new staff – providing step-by-step instructions to new starters at scale wherever they are in the world. AR can also help attract new talent and assess candidates during the recruitment process
  • Upskilling existing staff – AR can help bridge the skills gap by demonstrating new techniques and guiding them as they go about new roles. It helps workers learn by doing, which is better for retention than learning in a classroom
  • Creating new products – When companies introduce new products or features on existing ones, they can create AR instruction manuals for their staff. AR helps companies be agile and allocate resources across multiple global sites
  • Replacing retiring experts – Older staff may be about to retire, or just want to cut down on their travelling. AR can help them work remotely while maintaining a high level of support. It may even persuade people to stay in employment for longer
  • Boosting employee engagement – AR can help employees feel part of the company, even if they are working remotely, facilitating interaction and collaboration


AR allows companies to make advancements at scale. It can be used to smooth digital transformation across the company in almost every conceivable role. It can help companies deal with surges in demand, a new intake of starters or game-changing new products. 


COVID-19 may have brought augmented reality into companies’ consciousness, but it will achieve critical mass in the post-COVID world.


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