Ufi and Learning and Work Institute announce major £3m programme to get adults learning

Ufi VocTech Trust (Ufi) and Learning and Work Institute (L&W) have today made public an ambitious £3million programme to deliver a step-change in the numbers of adults taking part in learning and address the growing skills shortages holding back people, industry and regions across the UK.

Drawing on extensive research and consultation, their Skills for an Economy in Transition White Paper, sets out a programme to tackle the complex, interwoven and systemic barriers that contribute to the UK’s continued low rates of adult participation in learning and catalyse an acceleration in the development of skills for work.

Stephen Evans, CEO of Learning and Work Institute, explains:

“At a time of rapid change - driven by technological change and demographic shifts - we need to support people and employers to make the most of the opportunities ahead. We need to increase participation in learning and improve skills to avoid people, places and our economy being left behind. Our partnership with Ufi sets out our intentions to tackle this crucial challenge by getting more adults learning across the UK.”

The Challenge programme is the most ambitious to date, setting out Ufi and L&W’s commitment to addressing one of the biggest problems facing the UK: not enough adults are engaged in learning, with stark and persistent inequalities by social class and geography. By creating a movement for change, leveraging Ufi’s practical experience of developing vocational technology and L&W’s insights and partnership experience, the programme will address the demand for skills head-on and get adults learning.

Rebecca Garrod-Waters, CEO of Ufi, continues:

“Increasing the rate of adult learning across the UK is essential if we are to develop the skills the UK needs to thrive and ensure everybody can benefit from our transitioning economy. The significant commitments we are announcing today are designed to have a direct impact on the numbers of adults participating in learning. By integrating our six workstreams, underpinned by digital tools and pedagogies, we will help overcome barriers to participation, increase adult learning and deliver the skills the UK needs.”

Commitments announced in the White Paper include:

  1. The launch of the VocTech Future of Skills Award, a new competition to showcase bold ideas and solutions and to stimulate discussion around the future of tech-enabled skills development
  2. A series of place-based projects across the four nations of the UK where we can take a whole system approach to tackling adult participation in learning, building on the existing evidence base for adult participation and working closely with local partners to identify systemic barriers and support the development of targeted potential solutions
  3. An open grant fund to drive the development of digital tools and solutions that can help address the barriers identified in the place-based projects, and across the whole of the UK
  4. Direct investment and support for vocational technology with exceptional commercial potential, helping founders to scale and increase the impact of their solutions
  5. An evaluation programme to explore and demonstrate the impact of the interventions, the critical drivers and mechanisms for change
  6. A campaign to ensure policy makers understand the critical importance of increasing adult participation in learning across the UK and have the evidence of what works to help drive policy change

Development of the locations and partners for the place-based programmes are currently underway. The VocTech Future of Skills Award will be launched in July with the winners celebrated during the Week of VocTech in November 2023. The VocTech Challenge Grant fund will open for applications in June 2024.

Organisations focused on adult skills are encouraged to get involved with the programme and help #GetAdultsLearning. Ongoing announcements and opportunities for involvement will be shared through the Ufi community newsletter, on the Ufi and L&W websites, and across social media using the hashtag #GetAdultsLearning.

The White Paper which includes further details on the six commitments can be downloaded below.

VocTech Challenge: Skills for an Economy in Transition

Explore the VocTech Challenge White Paper.