With demand for COVID testing set to remain high Liverpool firm DAM healthcare is setting up a virtual reality training laboratory to train up new lab technicians. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool COVID-19 testing specialist DAM Health is setting up a virtual reality (VR) training laboratory to help meet the demand for trained technicians.
DAM has expanded rapidly to offer COVID testing both in the UK, in mainland Europe and as far afield as Mexico. Now the south Liverpool-based business is teaming up with technology educators Credersi to create a new course for COVID lab techs.
The syllabus is set to launch in October and aims to increase the number of lab technicians being trained to meet a mass skills shortage and crisis.
Research carried out by the Gatsby Foundation before the COVID-19 pandemic began showed that, by 2030, the UK will require a further 700,000 lab technicians to support this growing part of the economy.
DAM Health says that given the magnitude of the pandemic, and scale of the task it has seen first hand, that figure could double. The business was launched by Professor Frank Joseph in 2020.
He explained that increasing the number of trained lab technicians will also help to reduce the unit cost of COVId-19 testing over time. He said: “We’re incredibly proud to have teamed up with Credersi on what is set to be a really exciting project.
“The course and augmented reality we have developed will help to train the lab technicians of tomorrow and lead the fight against COVID-19 and any other virus or disease we may incur.
“This is just another example of our aims to operate at the highest standards, support global battles in the lab and make sure those in need today and tomorrow are looked after.”
The training course, which will take place via a virtual and augmented reality platform will last for eight weeks. It will include components of science, data science and data analytical programming, to train students to extrapolate results from their work.
It will also have a physical PCR machine, which will be used to model and render into a 3D virtual lab. This will allow the lab technicians and students to see an animated sequence of how to conduct a PCR test. The course can be accessed by students from anywhere in the world.
There are plans to take the 3D virtual lab into schools and colleges as part of a wider programme to encourage children and young people to study STEM subjects, by using technology they can relate to.
Andy Lord, chief executive and co-founder of Credersi, added: “The addition of the 3D modelling to develop a course that has elements uniquely focusing on COVID-19 and PCR is a real game-changer.
“There is a huge shortage of skilled lab technicians at the moment, and we aim to address that imbalance by injecting a new army of talented and trained lab technicians. Demand for lab technicians is outstripping supply in the market. COVID-19 testing will be with us for the foreseeable future.”