AUSTIN, Texas — Interplay Learning, a provider of online and VR training for the essential skilled trades, announced its partnership with The Michaels Organization, a provider of residential real estate services. Initiated in October 2021, Interplay Learning is providing over 2,300 maintenance technicians with on-demand, simulation-based training courses in the areas of HVAC, plumbing, electrical, appliance repair, and safety, preparing entry-level technicians to be job-ready in 18 weeks.

A growing skilled talent shortage and high turnover among onsite maintenance staff have property management companies across the country struggling to fill open maintenance positions.

“Training is a critical focus for attracting and retaining entry-level skilled talent into accessible maintenance roles across Michaels’ properties,” said Lea Ann Bowers, director of talent development at Michaels. “Interplay’s foundational courses and realistic simulation training on field equipment and appliances are crucial for expanding a shrinking talent pool, offering opportunities to build the skills of new hires with little to no experience in the industry.”

With a long-standing commitment to innovation and employee training, Michaels said it is pleased with the addition of Interplay’s trade catalogs into its maintenance training program. Since the initial rollout, Interplay has enabled them to fill essential maintenance roles faster, rapidly grow a confident workforce, and prepare employees for career-building certifications like EPA 608.

“With Interplay, we can now hire people with no experience and train them for maintenance,” said Jim Loughery, national vice president of facilities for The Michaels Organization. “Within the first two months, Interplay Learning's detailed, interactive training process has provided much-needed instructions to enable our maintenance teammates to safely troubleshoot and repair basic maintenance issues. After completing the Technician I pathway in 18 weeks, maintenance teammates are prepared to tackle most maintenance issues.” 

Additionally, the partnership is helping Michaels retain its workforce by offering advanced courses to move up in their careers. 

“Our existing maintenance teammates can increase their knowledge and become more valuable by completing Tech II and Tech III pathways,” Loughery said. “These courses give them the knowledge and confidence to identify and repair countless defects that help retain employees by empowering them to obtain more knowledge.”

“We’re proud to partner with The Michaels Organization to deliver accessible and innovative maintenance training to its maintenance teams and new hires," Doug Donovan, founder and CEO of Interplay Learning, commented. "As a national residential real estate leader, The Michaels Organization is setting an example for other multi-family organizations struggling with the skills shortage to leverage innovative training technologies to expand their labor pool and upskill essential employees.”