The Immersive Technology for the American Workforce Act of 2023 was drafted by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) with the support of organizations like the XR Association (XRA), Talespin, Unity, Association for Career and Technical Education, Transfr, and HTC VIVE, among others.
“Emerging technologies, such as XR, can help meet people where they are and expand access to cutting-edge technology and training resources,” remarked XRA CEO Elizabeth Hyman in a press release shared with ARPost. “Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester’s and Rep. Tim Walberg’s bill recognizes the importance of equitable access to skills training and workforce development programs and the key role immersive technology plays in delivering better outcomes.”
What Is the Immersive Technology for the American Workforce Act of 2023?
One advantage of incorporating immersive technologies for workforce training is that these are cost-effective and safer. They can also provide expanded training to underserved communities, as well as to workers with disabilities.
The Immersive Technology for the American Workforce Act aims to create a five-year program that provides support to various institutions, allowing them to utilize immersive technologies in their educational and training programs.
Furthermore, it aims to promote the development of inclusive technology while prioritizing underserved communities, such as rural areas and areas of substantial unemployment. It seeks to foster partnerships between private and public entities to address skills gaps, meet the needs of the workforce, and assist individuals who are facing barriers to employment.
“We’re excited to be able to work with Rep. Blunt Rochester, a member of Congress who cares deeply about ensuring underserved populations are able to tap into next-generation technology and skills training,” said XRA Senior Vice President of Public Policy Joan O’Hara.
There’s almost a quarter of Americans living in rural communities who are facing unique workforce challenges. Moreover, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, at the start of 2023, the country had 10.5 million unfilled jobs. The bill seeks to fill these gaps by enabling Americans from underserved communities and various backgrounds to have access to effective and high-quality training programs.
“XR technologies can dramatically change the way America’s workforce is recruited, trained, skilled, and upskilled. Scalable solutions are necessary to meet the diverse needs of today’s undiscovered talent to meet the needs of our complex workforce,” said Transfr CEO Bharanidharan Rajakumar.
How Will the Legislation Impact the Future of Work?
The Immersive Technology for the American Workforce Act follows the footsteps of “recent legislative successes”, such as the Access to Digital Therapeutics Act of 2023, which effectively extends “coverage for prescription digital therapeutics”. It aims to provide support, in the form of grants, to community colleges and career and technical education centers.
The grants will allow them to leverage XR technology for purposes such as workforce development and skills training. Furthermore, Immersive Technology for the American Workforce Act will enable such organizations and facilities to utilize XR technology to enhance their training, which, in turn, can help address the speed with which American companies meet workforce needs.