Draven Elliott tries out the new virtual reality career simulator at Opportunity Know on Wednesday Nov. 1, 2023. Credit: Grant Ritchey / Knox Pages

MOUNT VERNON — Job seekers and employers can view career opportunities in a different reality at Opportunity Knox.

The employment center recently received eight virtual reality headsets, purchased by the Greater Ohio Workforce Board.

The board offered to equip all counties with virtual reality headsets for the first year of operations. It allocated $44,000 to Knox County, allowing job seekers and employers to virtually work a day in the life of a profession.

JFS Administrator Brandy Booth said the agency will access the VR headset usage for a year when determining if the contract will be renewed.

Booth can keep track of how long the headsets have been used and how long someone is using them.

Jobs include knee surgeon, solar panel installer, EMS personnel, mechanic and more.

“I went into the knee surgery simulation and as soon as I saw the blood, I’m out,” Booth joked about her experience with the headset. “I don’t wanna do this.”

Booth said for those who want to join the medical field, the virtual reality career experience gives a glimpse into what surgery looks like.

Employers use headsets for training

Another factor of the headsets is for employers to use with their workforce. Headsets can be loaned to employers and education providers, too.

A career fair was held at the center on Oct. 11 where students tried several career paths.

“I think there’s a lot of things we can do with this (VR,”) Booth said. “I think that it’s very futuristic. I think it’s cutting-edge and I think it can help us change the way that it gives us an extra tool for career guidance.

Booth said she’d like to see more (simulations) in public safety such law enforcement.

“I would like to see some in social work,” Booth said. “It’s very heavy in manufacturing, healthcare and construction.”

For those interested in trying the headset, Booth said you can walk into the office when it’s open and someone will help you get started.

Booth finds the headsets as a next step in exploring career opportunities in a technology heavy world, rather than fearful of being obsolete.

“One thing I’ve learned is we continue to do what we’ve always done, we’re going to fail,” Booth said. “Because the world is evolving. Things are moving, technology’s moving very quickly and we need to be on board with moving with it.”

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This independent, local reporting provided by our Report for America Corps members is brought to you in part by the generous support of the Knox County Foundation and Kokosing.

I am a Report For America corps member at Knox Pages. I report on public education in the county as well as workforce development. I first landed at Knox Pages in June 2022.