TRANSFR VR, an immersive learning start-up pioneering virtual reality application to simulate on-the-job training, announced USD 12 million in Series A funding. It will allow the organization to scale training programs to improve economic mobility in regions most affected by gaps in skills and unemployment.

An emerging venture fund Firework Ventures led the round. It mostly invests in work companies’ human-centered future. Veteran VC investor Brigette Lau, the founder at Firework, and Ashley Bittner, Former Founder of Owl Ventures, has uniquely combined technology and policy expertise to early-stage investing. Later, Bittner, a former Department of Education appointee, will also be joining the board.

“By simulating on-the-job experience, we’re helping to transform skills training into a more engaging and immersive experience and bridge the gap between work-based learning and classroom instruction,” said Bharanidharan Rajakumar, Founder and CEO of TRANSFR. “Empowering high-potential workers with access to hands-on, practical training is unlocking better careers and higher wages—regardless of their employment history.”

TRANSFR is partnering with AIDT, Alabama’s employment department, and the Alabama Community College System to use the curriculum of TRANSFR and Oculus Quest with the virtual reality platform of Oculus for Business to provide skills training for professions that do not need a 4-year degree.

JumpstartAL, a new statewide partnership, allows job-seekers across the state to access simulation-based training. It will help prepare for the different roles in fast-growing industries such as construction, automotive, and other skilled trades.

“Making skills training more accessible, relevant, and engaging can help to bring technical careers to life and open them up to workers in search of their next step,” said Ed Castile, Deputy Secretary of Alabama Department of Commerce and Executive Director, AIDT. “This work is helping to bridge the gap between unemployed workers and hands-on, technical skills training required in fast-growing fields across our state.”

“Community colleges are always on the front lines of trying to connect education and training with the demands of employers at the state and local level,” said David Walters, Director of Special Projects and System Initiatives at the Alabama Community College System. “The lifelike simulations we’re employing are helping to equip students to compete and thrive in high-growth industries.”

While more than 12.6 million Americans are still looking for jobs, many employers and trainers are keen on utilizing emerging virtual reality technologies to offer hands-on, skills-based training for high-demand jobs. Not only in Alabama, but TRANSFR’s suite of immersive learning technology and assessment tools are also already used by schools, colleges, agencies, and employers around the country, including Mazda Toyota Manufacturing and Lockheed Martin.

“The troubling reality is that the current chapter of labor market volatility is perpetuating long-standing wage and skill gaps among women, low-income families, and people of color,” said Ashley Bittner, Founding Partner of Firework Ventures. “We view immersive learning technology as a powerful tool in building a more equitable and inclusive labor market while filling gaps for industries and employers that need talent now.”