Ufi VocTech Trust, the UK charity championing the power of technology to improve skills for work, today announce their new VocTech Seed grant funding.
The new VocTech Seed grant funding of £1.5m comes at a critical time for the UK skills gap; the UK skills shortage is costing organisations £6.3 billion, and 91% of companies have struggled to find workers with the right skills over the past 12 months.
Ufi is a long-term champion of the power of technology to improve skills for work, deploying grants for early-stage ideas since 2014. The VocTech Seed grant fund is designed to support experimentation and scoping of early-stage ideas, including pilots, prototyping and planning for longer-term deployment.
Ideas which have previously received grant-funding include; reskilling programmes in lean manufacturing using simulation technology (Sempai), gaming platforms which track and map your core competencies and aptitudes for work (GameAcademy); and health and social care student training and support for engaging in end-of-life care and infection prevention using microlearning (South West College).
The 2022 VocTech Seed fund totals £1.5m and will provide grants of between £15,000 and £50,000 for projects lasting from three to 12 months. In 2022 there will be two application rounds, the first opening from January 12th 2022 and closing on 9th February 2022, and the second opening from 15th June 2022 and closing on 13th July 2022. Workshops to assist fund applications will run during these application open windows.
The VocTech Seed fund aims to support innovations that are focussed on adults learning skills for work, unlocking personal benefits and national productivity. It is aimed at those who are not well-served by existing training and tools.
Alongside the financial support of the Ufi VocTech Trust grant, successful applications will benefit from an established alumni network of c.250+ projects and investments, millions of end-users, and the expertise of Ufi’s network, including co-investors, user testing groups, and trustees from major industry employers, education providers and experts from different sectors.
The VocTech Seed grant fund is part of Ufi VocTech Trust’s holistic framework of support, from early-stage and later-stage grants, venture investment and investment capital, all geared to support vocational educational technology with positive impact.
Rebecca Garrod-Waters, CEO at Ufi VocTech Trust, said:
"This fund comes at a major turning point for the world of work and who benefits from our new ways of working. I hope very much that pilots supported by this fund will improve access to the benefits of a digitally-enabled world of work for more people across our society."