Thoughts on the Further Education and Lifelong Learning APPG meeting

By Josh Smith, Public Affairs Officer

I recently had the pleasure of attending my first All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) meeting as Ufi’s Public Affairs Officer and it sparked a few thoughts.

The APPG for Further Education and Lifelong Learning had met to discuss the role of colleges in supporting unemployed people into work. I was there to get a first look at the APPG and understand where Ufi might be able to contribute in the future.

The APPG is supported by the Association of Colleges and the meeting started with presentations from Teresa Firth (Association of Colleges), David Warnes (West London College) and Kathleen Henehan (Resolution Foundation) followed by a discussion with Parliamentarians. The presentations provided a great introduction to the problems unemployed people face when getting back into work and the analysis mirrored many of the issues Ufi identified in its Green and White papers.

Ufi has funded a range of projects that look to support people getting back into work. We have specialised in supporting people from sectors, geographies and communities that are usually under-served or left behind by mainstream provision. Our projects have shown the vital role for technology in helping people transition back into work by improving skills. In the 2019 VocTech Specialist challenge, Ufi supported the First Step Trust in developing Smart Pathways, a programme which helps the long-term unemployed tackle issues with learner confidence by using VR (Virtual Reality), video and AI (Artificial Intelligence).

Improving learner confidence

The First Step Trust helped support individual learners gain the confidence to improve skills and access meaningful employment opportunities. In the latest VocTech Challenge, Ufi wants to support ideas that use digital tools to make a real difference to learner confidence and help level up vocational learning for adults most at risk from the growing digital divide across the UK.

When it comes to contributing to APPGs and other groups considering the future of UK vocational education, Ufi has the ability to call on an enormous bedrock of knowledge, developed over years of grant and venture funding vocational technology (VocTech). We are keen to see more VocTech embedded in every part of the adult vocational education sector. Hopefully, as we reach out, there will be more debates and discussions that champion the role technology can play in developing skills for work.

We are keen to speak to as many people as possible across the VocTech, EdTech, adult education and lifelong learning communities, so if a chat sounds interesting please do get in touch by emailing josh.smith@ufi.co.uk or contacting me via Twitter or LinkedIn.