FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — At the Fayetteville Public Library, virtual reality is changing the way people gain new job skills and certifications.

The ‘Level Up’ program‘s goal is to boost those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and low-income residents’ resumes, so they can get higher-paying jobs. The program is offered for free through funding from the nonprofit, Friends of the Fayetteville Public Library and the City of Fayetteville’s American Rescue Plan.

The library’s Center for Innovation manager Melissa Taylor said people can get certified in things like computer coding, heavy equipment operating, plumbing, and construction skills. She said participants will work through the virtual reality training at their own pace, and with an industry professional as their mentor.

“Not everyone’s a traditional learner, and not everyone is going to go to a four-year college or registering for an official program, because it’s inaccessible for many people,” said Taylor. “So that’s where we come in. I think alternative training programs like this are going to be the future in a lot of ways.”

In addition to the virtual reality training, program staff also help participants put their new-found skills into writing with resume-building workshops.

While Fayetteville Public Library is the first in Northwest Arkansas to offer a program like this, Taylor said this technology will be expanding to libraries across the country.

Applications opened for the ‘Level Up’ program April 15, and can be found here.