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Virtual Reality Work Experience Showcases Careers at Knowsley Safari

To celebrate National Careers Week (7th – 11th March), Knowsley Safari has joined forces with Growth Platform – Liverpool City Region Growth Company and Juice Immersive to create ‘virtual work experience’ for local students.

Using virtual reality (VR) headsets and a specially created ‘Let’s Explore the Visitor Economy’ programme, pupils will be able to experience what it’s like to work at Knowsley Safari from the comfort of their classrooms. This removes any of the practical limitations of traditional work experience, enabling students with special education needs and disabilities to sample possible careers.

The ‘Let’s Explore the Visitor Economy’ programme has been developed based on the many different careers at Knowsley Safari and brings these to life in a virtual world. Students can experience what it’s like to be an animal keeper, as well as what’s involved working in the Safari’s busy restaurant and outdoor food court.

Nikki Mallott, Head of Learning and Discovery at Knowsley Safari, added: “There are many different careers at Knowsley Safari, such as working in our conservation and education teams, as well as guest relations. These career choices aren’t always obvious to children as they’re growing up and it can be even more difficult for pupils with special education needs and disabilities to experience these roles. The VR programme provides an innovative way of overcoming these challenges.”

Growth Platform is Liverpool City Region’s growth company who, through the Career’s Hub, connects local businesses and education as part of the government’s career strategy. Career’s Hubs were established by the national body for careers education in England, The Careers & Enterprise Company.

Claire Caddick, Operational Career’s Hub Lead at Growth Platform, said: “We’re creating a series of VR work experiences to enable children to step into virtual worlds and realise the wide range of career opportunities on offer.

“The whole VR concept removes any physical barriers typically associated with organising work experience and makes even more careers accessible to people of all abilities.”

Liverpool-based Juice Immersive has been working with Knowsley Safari and Growth Platform to build the ‘Let’s Explore’ programme. Owen Cotterell, co-founder and Creative Director at the agency, added: “We’re filming fascinating, first-person 360-degree video footage of exactly what it’s like to work at Knowsley Safari, as we move through a number of varied job roles. We then stitch this into a truly immersive VR experience transporting the students to vantage points of the Safari that many visitors don’t ever get to see and learning from the incredible Knowsley Safari staff.”

The ‘Let’s Explore the Visitor Economy’ VR work experience programme is open to schools in the Liverpool city region. Schools interested in applying for the programme should contact:

Nikki Mallott concluded: “National Careers Week is all about empowering positive change through careers education, and we truly believe the VR work experience achieves this. We’re looking forward to bringing Knowsley Safari’s varied and exciting careers to life for the pupils.”

A series of work experience scenarios have been running as part of ‘Project Explore’. This has previously been piloted with Regenda Homes as a host employer and enables local students to explore employers and growth sectors within the Liverpool City Region. The project provides students with engaging and immersive virtual work experiences spanning advanced manufacturing, higher and further education, retail, logistics and the visitor economy.