Supporting a better transition from training into the world of work

A winning vision from the VocTech Future of Skills Awards

The VocTech Future of Skills Award was designed to share and celebrate big, tech-enabled ideas of how changes to the UK skills system could transform the way adults get the skills they need for work.

In this article we learn more about one of the winning entries, from Stuart Hill.

Explore the other winning entries.


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Supporting a better transition from training into the world of work

We need far better ways of creating inclusive workspaces and supporting effective transitions from training into work, argues Stuart Hill, one of three winners of a national competition held to celebrate visions for the future of the UK skills system - Ufi’s VocTech Future of Skills Award.

Stuart is the Director of Assistiv CIC, a company that uses assistive technology and training to remove barriers to employment for adults with learning disabilities.

Stuart Hill receiving his VocTech Future of Skills Award

Stuart (centre) receiving his award from Ufi CEO, Rebecca Garrod-Waters, and Chair of Trustees, Dominic Gill.

Stuart’s winning vision was informed by his experience creating digitally enabled training and workplace based support to enable businesses, training providers and schools to collaborate and communicate to ensure that people with learning disabilities have the support and opportunities they need to flourish at work.

“We urgently need a joined-up system which allows closer collaboration between training providers, schools and businesses to ensure professionals with learning disabilities gain the skills firms want and need.”

Stuart says that his experience as a special educational needs teacher left him feeling despondent at times as his students took courses and gained skills, but that this “didn’t lead to anything - there was no clear pathway”.

”As a teacher, I could see very talented people who were very capable and we were working very hard to improve their life chances. But … they still didn't get the opportunities,” he says.

There is currently a disconnect between vocational training and secure long-term paid work for those with learning disabilities, Stuart argues.

“What's going on during the transition from the controlled environment of training to the live environment of work? What are the nuances and barriers that aren't allowing people to succeed at scale?”

“Often it’s about looking at this holistically and saying, are we speaking the same language? What do employers need? It’s not just skills, because I believe we've got people with the skills and the ability to do those jobs. What’s really preventing people from succeeding? Is it confidence? Is it the support that they get?”

“We urgently need a joined-up system which allows closer collaboration between training providers, schools and businesses to ensure people with learning disabilities gain the skills firms want and need, and are supported effectively into employment”, he says.

Stuart argues that technology has an increasingly important role in enabling training providers and employers to communicate and collaborate more effectively.

“There needs to be a way - and I believe it’s through technology - for businesses to inform teaching programmes and transitions into work.”

“If schools, colleges, training programmes and businesses had a shared platform, they could more easily meet the needs of those people looking to gain and maintain employment”.

Stuart's winning entry in more detail

This video entry showed how people with learning disabilities, who want to work, can be enabled to do so by using the right technology (e.g. smart phone / smart watch) to provide learners with the support they need, when they need it.  It demonstrated how the model can be embedded in employer processes and systems, rather than a 'bolt on', delivering direct value to employers as well as helping people with learning disabilities to grow in their jobs.

Supporting a better transition from training into the world of work

“My vision is to use technology to remove barriers to employment, by allowing businesses and training providers to collaborate and share information so that adults with learning disabilities receive the support and opportunities they need to be successful in the workplace.

At the moment, there is a gap between what people are learning and what firms need and this sometimes prevents them from entering employment and it very often means they don’t reach their potential.

An online platform would showcase the skills people have already gained and the support they may require. Meanwhile, businesses would list the attributes they are looking for. This would lead to a more joined-up system, greater opportunities and skilled, happier and more productive staff.

I envisage employers sharing their onboarding processes, and information about health and safety policies, for example, or about food hygiene expectations. This will mean that those looking for employment can understand more about a potential workplace.

One of my aims is that technology is used to help reduce some of the challenging issues that develop in the workplace. I’ve seen from my work, for example, that individuals with anxiety, or low confidence, sometimes store things up and then address them with the wrong person.

With our platform Assistiv, both the employer and employee are reminded of the process to go through if they have a problem and given guidance on how to effectively communicate it at an early stage.

The platform also enables other people in the workplace to be assigned as mentors. It's all about using technology to provide prompts, cues and support.”

Stuart Hill, Assistiv

Judges were impressed by the employer lens on the challenge question and were interested in the idea of a systemic change that started with those furthest from traditional learning, that would create wider improvement for all. Whilst the product target audience is a subset of the full potential learner community, the potential impact for change through a different way of viewing implementation was seen as something that could be very powerful.

Part of the VocTech Challenge: Skills for an economy in transition

The VocTech Future of Skills Award formed part of our VocTech Challenge: Skills for an Economy in Transition, a multi-year programme of funding and work in partnership with Learning and Work Institute.

Entrants to the Future of Skills Award were asked to share their ideas for how technology could help overcome the current challenges to the UK skills system.