Bryn Davies, Ufi’s longest serving member of the charity’s Trustee Board, retired in October. As we celebrate Trustee week, it’s a timely opportunity for Bryn to reflect at his time with the Trust
I joined the Board after an interview by the then Chair in 2005 and the Board worked with the staff to prepare Learndirect for sale which secured £49.6m to the Ufi Trust.
We had some difficulty in finding projects to fund in the first few years
We were new and relatively unknown and people with ideas for new products or services in the vocational and education sector were few and far between.
We had to create a presence as a funding body in the sector and promote ourselves first. Thanks to the work of our Chief Executive, Rebecca, and a very small team, we made a rapid impression.
One of the features which attracted grant seekers to Ufi was our approach to funding which was so different from others; we were supportive to grant seekers and our formalities, whilst being short and sharp, were so unlike those of others which were very formal and bureaucratic.
We had to show that our process was both open and intelligent. We also offered feedback to unsuccessful applicants which helped them return successfully on future occasions.
In the first year we had only four successful applicants one of which was to develop a training package for School Dinner staff. This was amazing and highly successful. School Dinner staff previously had no opportunities for training designed for them and this opened a door for them.
The Trust which we had supported in its project to develop a package of courses relevant to this group of workers was subsequently funded directly to deliver a training programme for these hitherto forgotten staff.
We have supported many projects over the years and looked at new developments in the digital world which could be applied to vocational education and training.
I remember a Board meeting in which I put on a headset and got the fright of my life as I took a rollercoaster ride in a theme park with headlong rushes over what looked like vertical drops and survived! We also saw headsets used for the training of domestic gas fitters in the USA which showed gas faults, made the wearer rectify them, and demonstrated dramatically the outcome of mistakes, without explosions burning houses down! We have seen the application of gaming to training especially in its use in basic maths to great effect.
The range of projects has grown over the years to include many sectors including manufacturing, education itself , the care industry and language development.
We have made a significant and positive impression on vocational education and training
I feel we have made a significant and positive impression on vocational education and training, particularly for forgotten or previously educationally unsuccessful students, which is dear to my heart.
Our latest investment aims are to manage investments to promote Sustainable Development Goals in our main investment portfolio and to encourage other investors to support the Digital Education and Training sector . We have made a good start and I look forward to hear of great successes in the future.
My best memories of Ufi will be the annual VocTech Showcase
I have enjoyed my time as a Trustee of Ufi and wish both Trustees and staff well as they take Ufi into the future with great success.
My best memories of Ufi will be the annual VocTech Showcases where the wonderful reality of the projects supported by the Trust are brought to life.