Ufi and the RSA

Uniting people, places and ideas to show how tech can help tackle the UK skills crisis

Our partnership with the RSA (The royal society for arts, manufactures and commerce) provides a unique opportunity to lead the public debate on how to design better tech-enabled systems for adult learning – with learners at its heart.

Drawing on The RSA’s deep policy, research and systems change expertise and Ufi’s practical, actionable insights from the organisations it supports, together we aim to unite people, places and ideas to show how tech can help tackle the UK skills crisis.

"Working in Strategic Partnership with Ufi has given the RSA’s work in lifelong learning the support to become more focused on learner needs and more free to innovate in the spaces between in-person and digital delivery of learning opportunities."

Tom Kenyon, Head of Programme, Learning Society, The RSA


The benefits of lifelong learning are not evenly spread across the UK, with adults in the lowest-paid professions and outside London consistently being the least likely to have engaged in learning since leaving formal education.

This imbalance reflects the inadequate provision of adult learning and training opportunities and is a significant problem if we are to deliver the skills we need for the future.

Together, Ufi and the RSA are working to show how tech can help tackle the UK crisis, with a particular focus on how a tech-enabled system can work for those who are least likely to engage with lifelong or adult learning opportunities.

Activities and achievements

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Digital Badging Commission

In a global first, Ufi and the RSA launched the Digital Badging Commission in May 2024, bringing together leading experts from across higher and further education, commerce and technology to broaden the understanding, development and adoption of digital badges by accrediting organisations and employers.

We aim to build a new consensus around the development and deployment of digital badges and micro credentials to recognise and reward learning and skills development, transforming skills and qualifications in the UK.

Visit the Digital Badging Commission website

The Cities of Learning

A place-based digital solution to open up access to learning

The RSA’s Cities of Learning programme is a new model for cities and regions in the UK to design and deliver inclusive lifelong learning tailored to the needs of local people and economies.

Developed in partnership with cities and localities, education providers, employers, youth sector organisations and education funders, the Cities of Learning programme helps people find new learning opportunities and, through digital badges, have their achievements recognised to confidently tell their own story.

Building on past collaborations between Ufi and The RSA to develop and pilot the Cities of Learning concept we are now working together to showcase how placed-based solutions, underpinned by technology, can transform how those furthest away from learning can get the skills they need for work.

You can read about the project in our VocTech Directory or visit the project website.

The technology underlying Cities of Learning was developed by Navigatr, funded as part of the project. Navigatr has grown into a comprehensive digital badging platform serving cities and regions across the UK.

Visit the Cities of Learning website


Ufi and the RSA have commissioned a joint piece of national, community-based research to better understand the barriers people face when engaging with learning and to explore the what might encourage learners to overcome them.

The research looks specifically at the challenges facing those most impacted by the digital divide and how VocTech could potentially be deployed to address some of those challenges.

The intended outcome is not an academic paper on the socio-economic conditions of these learners, but an actionable report that can influence future Ufi strategy and delivery and help change policy thinking and practice. We remain focused on the practical goal of creating change in the short to medium term.

You can read the research report at: www.thersa.org/reports/rebalancing-adult-learning-report-rsa-ufi


Thought Leadership

Convening leadership-level exchange of our shared ‘systems change’ agenda

Past events and publications

RSA President's Lecture and Dinner. 28th April 2022.

The RSA’s guest speaker for the President's Lecture 2022 was Julia Gillard, Chair of Wellcome and former Prime Minister of Australia. Julia is a leading figure in global educational development and a passionate advocate for lifelong educational opportunities for all.

Following the lecture, at a private dinner hosted by the RSA, Ufi CEO Rebecca Garrod Waters addressed guests on the work of Ufi, our partnership with the RSA and our shared vision for the future.

Technology & learning for a society in transition

Faced with rapid social and economic change, what will vocational education look like for employers, learners and institutions in 2030?

With a focus on place, the economy and the environment, the session from the Week of VocTech 2021 featured a range of speakers representing organisations at the cutting edge of technology and vocational education, discussing what they think learning skills for work will look like in 2030.

Watch again here.

Resources from across the site

News, projects and activity in partnership with the RSA.