New VR training lab unveiled in Mackay

The Government of Queensland has announced the establishment of a new virtual reality (VR) training lab for the resources sector in the Central Queensland regional centre of Mackay, committing an additional $5.7 million in funding to its development.

The virtual reality training centre, part of Mackay’s Resources Centre of Excellence and developed by Next World Enterprises, will provide scenarios to help students understand high-risk environments and potential hazards in resources and extraction industry environments.

Resources Minister Scott Stewart said the new lab would help deliver faster and more diverse training options for workers.

The Queensland Government committed an additional $5.7 million to expand the Centre to help, it said, stay “ahead of emerging industry needs”.

The launch coincided with the second Resources Ministerial Advisory Group meeting, bringing together government and resource industry leaders to drive Queensland’s 30-year plan for the resources sector.

“Developing a highly skilled and adaptable workforce is a key component of our 30-year plan for the resources sector, which will enable us to drive innovation and growth for decades to come,” Stewart added.

“This week we announced $963,000 in funding for the Queensland Resources Council to establish a digital hub that will assist the industry in attracting and retaining a more diversified and inclusive workforce.

“By working in partnership with industry leaders and peak bodies through our Ministerial Advisory Group, we are building a strong foundation to future-proof Queensland’s resources industry.

“We’re proud of the resources industry, which supports about 75,000 good jobs and contributed more than $74 billion to Queensland’s economy last financial year.”

Stephen Boxall, chief executive of the Resources Centre of Excellence, notes that the virtual reality training lab has been an 18-month collaboration with Next World Enterprises.

Commenting on the launch, Michael O’Reilly, chief executive and founder of Next World Enterprises, said that his firm’s virtual reality software was designed to enhance the learner’s engagement and foster a deep comprehension of the training topic.

He added that the software is now used in 16 countries and “by the largest companies in the world”.

“It is also a win for business, as it increases productivity and minimises downtime due to injury from ineffective training.

“Next World is a major Queensland technology success story—starting in 2018, we are now in the top three globally in its field,” O’Reilly said.