Today, Ufi VocTech Trust responded to the Department for Transport’s (DfT) consultation on transport sector skills. The consultation was launched to help DfT better understand the skills needed to boost diversity, plug the skills gap and promote careers in the transport sector.
In our response, we highlighted the need for a comprehensive strategy for transport skills that recognises the importance of vocational education and the potential for technology to improve outcomes for learners, future employers, and society as a whole.
We demonstrated how technology, when implemented well, can play an important role in widening access to new communities and groups by helping break down barriers to learning. For example:
- mobile-first learning is accessible to people whenever they want it;
- bite-sized digital learning and micro-credentials provide learning in small, accessible chunks for people who are ‘time poor’; and
- digital platforms can provide information on roles, the skills needed and new pathways for learners to get those skills.
Technology can also help improve motivation and retention, for example through gamification and ‘competitions’ with peers via digital networks.
The response was supported by case studies from several Ufi supported projects and ventures operating across the UK.
The UK’s labour market needs to provide the skilled and qualified individuals the transport sector requires to address immediate skills shortages as well as providing the capacity to respond to the increasing demand for future skills that the sector will need. Technology can play a key role in helping to solve these challenges, providing improved access and equity of opportunity.
The future of the UK’s education and training system needs to be considered in its entirety. Within the education system, the importance of high-calibre and digitally advanced training that supports the transport sector must not sit separate and distinct from the rest of post-16 skills provision.
Failing to consider either a high-quality and digitally advanced education, or how it fits into a broader education and training strategy, will result in continued and worse skills shortages. Therefore, any strategy needs to shift the dial on adult participation in lifelong learning, which is already trending down, with 30% of UK adults not having learnt since leaving full-time education.
The digital tools and technology that Ufi VocTech Trust supports present a tried and tested way to deliver a system that supports flexible and long-term careers as well as addressing imbalances in diversity and social mobility in the sector. There are many other project examples, in related industries and the service sector, where the lessons learned through the application of technology solutions can transform outcomes for both job seekers and employers. Some are high-tech, using cutting-edge new technologies, but many are the effective deployment of relatively modest technological solutions, using excellent learning design to achieve the impact needed.
Whatever decisions the Government takes to tackling specific learning or skills challenges in the transport sector, it is essential that it fits into a unified cross-government approach to post-16 skills. A sectoral approach to the skills challenge is highly unlikely to succeed.
A comprehensive strategy for transport skills needs to integrate the importance of vocational education and the potential for technology to improve outcomes for learners, future employers, and society as a whole.
In our response to the consultation Ufi referenced several of our projects. This includes those projects that operate in the transport sector as well as projects that demonstrate key elements of technology or learning methodology that should be adopted by the transport sector.
Ufi Transport Projects
- Limbic, Whiley & Co: Limbic is an interactive soft-skills training application that can be delivered in classrooms and at home, using both traditional technology and immersive methods of delivery (VR). Limbic supports public transport workers, in particular bus and coach drivers, by finding new ways to offer effective training solutions.
- WayPoint, Marine Society and Sea Cadet Organisation (MSSC): MSSC offers Sea Cadets a diverse range of training and development opportunities. WayPoint is an interactive portal, accessible via mobile devices, that gives learners a clear view of opportunities available to them, the learning journey and what their next steps could be.
- Flow, Skills for Logistics: The logistics industry is a fast-growing sector which faced serious challenges during 2020. There is typically limited time and budget to be spent on training for additional but non-essential skills. Flow is an online ‘talent growth platform’ that is working to enable the transport and logistics sector to provide engaging micro qualifications and learning tools for employees to increase overall levels of learning.
- Tripping the Thames, BLTK Consulting: The tidal Thames is the UK’s second largest seaport and busiest inland waterway for freight and passengers, with an urgent need for more commercial river pilots to allow an increase in freight traffic. Tripping the Thames created a VR (Virtual Reality) simulation of the Thames based around a 360° video which enables learners to study the river using digital technology.