Ufi VocTech Trust, the UK's leading charity for championing the power of technology to improve skills for work, has launched its Vocational Challenge Green Paper which explores how technology can break down barriers to vocational learning.
This Green Paper, and the subsequent Green Paper consultation period, will inform how Ufi uses its funding, insights, and influence to support the development of digital solutions (VocTech) to improve outcomes and deliver impact for vocational learners.
Sector colleagues are invited to review the Green Paper and input their comments before Friday 26th March 2021; these comments will shape the subsequent Vocational Challenge White Paper, to be published and shared with the sector in April 2021.
At the heart of the Green Paper is a focus on learners who are disproportionately impacted by the digital divide and absolute and relative digital exclusion.
The Green Paper represents more than three months of dialogue with partners, drawing on the ‘lived experience’ of teachers, trainers, adult community education practitioners, learning designers, tech entrepreneurs, developers, and employers in order to seek new insights into some of the greatest challenges in adult vocational education.
The Green Paper identifies 5 key insights that need to be considered and understood to create, develop and deploy digital solutions for vocational learning which is accessible to all. These include the importance of learning as a community activity, the importance of a learning culture and learning design in addition to technology infrastructure, and the importance of digital skills to open up learning and employment opportunity. Crucially, each learning experience must take into account the whole person, and be flexible around their needs and particular contexts.
The Green Paper comes at a crucial time for UK skills development, and aims to surface solutions for those learners who, without positive intervention, will struggle to get the skills they need to work or progress in employment (1).
Dominic Gill, Chair of Ufi VocTech Trust’s Board of Trustees said:
The VocTech Challenge Green Paper reflects the best of how Ufi works. Our strategy is clear on our objective to act in partnership with others to develop the VocTech eco-system, across the private and public sectors, through grants and investments and by using our voice to move things forward.
The quality of the conversations we have had to form our thinking here has been incredible and we are very grateful to all of those who have offered their time to share their experiences.
This isn’t a document that will sit on a policy shelf. This is a living process that we are using to now engage with a wider community and which will shape what we do next. We hope that you see your own experiences reflected here and if not, please share with us your perspective. We look forward to hearing from you
Rebecca Garrod-Waters, Chief Executive Officer, Ufi VocTech Trust said:
The big challenge we foresee is that the communities who are not traditionally well served by mainstream provision, the focus of Ufi’s core strategy, are now probably more at risk than ever from being excluded from education and training and being able to access employment. These are issues that precede the COVID-19 pandemic but have been further compounded by it.
The VocTech Challenge is our opportunity to explore these issues with an open mind and to use our funding, insights, and influence to support the development of digital solutions which can improve outcomes and deliver impact for vocational learners.
Ufi’s position as an independent actor in this space has enabled us to bring together a wide variety of perspectives and just listen to what they wanted to share. I want to add my thanks for the time and energy that people have put into helping us to create this snapshot of the sector, at a very challenging time.