FUTURE TIME TRAVELLER - Transforming career guidance on future skills, jobs and career prospects of Generation Z through a game based virtual reality platform

Autor: University of Lodz

The main objective of the FUTURE project is to introduce an innovative game-based scenario approach in career guidance for introducing the Generation Z to the jobs of the future. To achieve this, the 7-actor partnership has developed the Future Time Traveller platform in 3D virtual world, addressing students aged 13-19, as well as career guidance practitioners working with them. The platform aimed at helping the young people:
● Become more aware how societal and technological developments shape the world of work
● Increase their understanding about the changes in the labour market
● Learn more about emerging jobs and careers
● Improve their understanding on the skills which will be required in the future
● Understand the various career opportunities that the future holds
● Learn how to identify credible sources of information on new jobs
● Be more prepared to take informed career decisions
● Develop a positive attitude towards the future
● Understand that the future lays in their own hands
During the project, the partnership reached out tens of thousands of recipients through its networks and using diverse channels – the project platform and Facebook page, events and publications.

We were able to directly get feedback on the reception and potential of our platform from 708 individuals from seven EU countries. Of this group, 483 young people from the Z generation had the opportunity to delve into the world of Future Time Traveller. Another 225 users are professionals – policy makers, experts, vocational and career guidance professionals, coaches, teachers – had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the platform during various types of events and in the process of exploitation. (Figure 1)

Figure 1. Distribution of answers by survey source


Both groups are largely ready to recommend the developed platform as an innovative source of information and inspiration for career guidance. 96% of experts would promote the platform to other professionals and more than 90% would use the game in their practice. The Future Time Traveller proves to be also attractive for young people, as more than 85% of the pilot users would happily use it in classroom, with friends or as a home assignment. (Figure 2)

Figure 2. Readiness to use and recommend the platform

The aim of our study was also to determine to what extent the Future platform shapes users’ competences regarding their understanding of the future labour market and the challenges that await them while building their careers. (Figure 3)

Figure 3. Learning outcomes of the platform

● 91% of all respondents say the Future Time Traveller platform in 3D virtual world make young people more aware of the challenges of the future.
● The same share (91% of respondents) believe that the information provided during the adventure improves users’ awareness about new jobs and careers
● 89% think the virtual world familiarizes participants with the skills, necessary for the jobs in the future.
● 89% of respondents agree that the platform develops career self-consciousness in young people.
● 88% think the missions enhance Gen Z’s understanding of the labour market trends.
● 87% of respondents consider the Future journey affects positively users’ confidence about their professional future.
● 87% said it is a valuable tool to help students appreciate the role of credible information.
● According to 86% of all respondents the missions in the game increases career decisions responsibility of young people.
● 85% said the Future Time Traveller game increases users’ career open-mindedness and thus young people are more flexible in relation to their careers and education and are able to react faster to what the future holds.

Based on the study, we can determine that the consortium’s approach to the use of the virtual worlds and scenario-based game mechanics has been well received by young people and professionals. The differences in the distribution of responses between the two groups were small. For the Generation Z, an average of 86% of responses confirmed that the proposed approach improves or dramatically improves users’ feelings about the goals we wanted to achieve and the skills we wanted to cultivate. According to almost 89% of young people, Future Time Traveller has increased their awareness that shaping their professional future depends entirely on them. It was the youngest-rated gain from completing the adventure. During thorough research carried out at the first stage of the pilot, we also found that young people are happy to accept the solution we propose as an interesting educational tool. Young people were interested in the multilingual environment of the virtual world and from the very beginning were interested in the communication mechanisms implemented in the platform. This is confirmed by, among others comments left in surveys:
● “”I liked that you can play in together with other people””, “”It’s exciting that I can meet people from other countries. Together, it’s easier to solve all the missions””
● “”I like FTT the most that it allows me to be more independent and it’s not just a theory. Combining fun and learning brings better results””
86% of young people surveyed said that they would rather or definitely want to use the Future Time Traveller platform in cooperation with friends, and as many as 90% said that they would love to play such a game during school classes and turned the routine of normal classes into more interactive classes and 84% of students would accept such homework.

Career guidance experts have also noticed the potential of the FTT platform and the possibility of using it in their work. During the events for professionals organized by the consortium, we also asked additional questions, allowing us to better understand the correctness of the solution we proposed. The acceptance of our approach by experts and the potential of real use of the platform in partner countries was reflected in the answer to two questions – about readiness to use the platform and its further recommendation. Almost 67% of experts who had the opportunity to see the platform stated that they are definitely ready to use FTT in their own professional practice to support the process of career guidance and as much as 70% would be ready to recommend the game and the approach proposed in the project to other advisors and groups of young people. In both questions, around 26% of respondents said they would probably be ready to do so. In total, as much as 96% of experts replied that they are ready to recommend our platform.
Comments from practitioners:
● “Through the Future game, students will acquire the skills needed to decide on the profession to pursue. I would say that this game will be a starting point for students to reflect on the future.”
● “When shaping young people, we need to think about the changes that are taking place in the world. The possibility of using a platform like FUTURE can give career guidance counsellors a very friendly environment to introduce young people to the world of future professions”
According to experts and guidance counsellors, platform in the best extent (up 95.48%) let young people become more aware how social and technological developments shape the world of work, expands their knowledge about new jobs and careers insights (94,06%) and provides valuable information regarding emerging skills (93,21%). According to experts, the formula presented by the platform for the transfer of knowledge through scenarios, quizzes and an interesting story placed in virtual world fulfils its role well. Through their answers, experts emphasized the problem with access to appropriate tools supporting their job and the importance of the role of a career counsellor in the process of educating young people – especially in the case of taking informed career decisions. Together with the opinions contained in the surveys, e.g.: “”The tool could work if integrated within a wider learning path, together with face to face (eg. class based) insights””, it can be assumed that even among sceptics after proper implementation of solutions such as FTT into the curriculum, it can benefit all parties.

Future Time Traveller is a solution that tries to expand the range of tools engaging young people and tries to intriguingly convey the knowledge necessary to make important decisions in the future. By placing a young person in the virtual world, it creates a safe space to develop their skills and interests. Starting their adventure with our world, young people devoted a lot of time and attention to preparing their avatar. They gave him individual features such as height, body shape, hairstyle, and clothing. It allowed them to better express themselves in the world of the game, to become more familiar with it. Experts should remember this and take into account that FTT is not just a communication tool and a replacement for traditional classroom lessons. Young people in the virtual world have much greater opportunities to express themselves and engage in the imaginary reality of the virtual world.
The development of the FTT platform and research coincided with a period of normal functionality, when we could go to work, school and do all activities without restrictions without any restrictions. Under normal conditions, the idea of the platform was recognized as very attractive, valuable and usable in the work of career guidance specialists. In the current epidemiological situation, when schools in most European countries have been closed, teaching is shifting to worse or better results to the internet, the FTT platform is particularly noteworthy.
The virtual world created for the needs of the project can be easily used to organize meetings, lectures and exercises in a safe and neutral space – much more interesting than traditional e-learning tools. The idea of FTT can be adapted and used in any field of knowledge and the open source license gives the opportunity to create new missions, heroes and share new content. Young people would happily attend such classes, especially if the solution is available over the phone or virtual reality goggles. The virtual world has another big advantage – there is no social distancing.

„The project is just on time, because the future is already here.”