The VocTech Challenge 2021: Levelling up learning

Back in November 2020, at our Ufi VocTech Showcase, the big challenge we foresaw was that the communities who are not traditionally well served by mainstream vocational skills and training provision, the focus of Ufi’s strategy, were probably more at risk than ever from being excluded from education and training and being able to access employment.

In response, we kicked off the 2021 VocTech Challenge to explore, with an open mind, where Ufi can best use its resources to make change happen. This is a major initiative for Ufi the outcomes of which will help shape our activities for the coming years.

But Ufi can’t do this on its own, so, using design thinking principles, we set about on an exercise of co-creation across the VocTech community to address the following questions:

How can VocTech improve vocational outcomes for people most impacted by the digital divide and at greatest risk from the long-term impact of the pandemic on access to training and jobs?

How do we then link those vocational skills to real employment opportunities?

Our Approach

We used the Design Council’s ‘double diamond’ innovation framework, which consists of four distinct stages called discover, define, develop and deliver. In the discover stage, we have deliberately re-checked that our understanding of the VocTech world reflects reality. From there, we have brought our findings together into a series of problem statements/ opportunities (defining needs) in a Green Paper.

We then moved into the develop stage by asking “how might we (or others that we work with) make a real difference in relation to these key themes?”

Finally, we chose the best of those ideas as outlined in our White Paper and are currently seeking to deliver them in pursuit of Ufi’s mission and the widest possible benefit.

Design Council's Double Diamond represent a process of exploring an issue more widely or deeply (divergent thinking) and then taking focused action (convergent thinking).

VocTech Challenge timetable

Nov 2020 - Feb 2021

Discovery phase

Engagement with partners and stakeholders to explore the landscape.


March 2021

Green Paper released for consultation

The Green Paper will define the areas for focus and confirm the problem we are looking to address.

March - April 2021

Ideation Phase & Publish White Paper

Ufi will engage with partners and stakeholders to develop potential solutions. We will also publish a White Paper at the end of this phase which will set out what Ufi will do, what others are doing and key asks of the sector.


June 2021 onwards

Delivery phase

Ufi will take forward the actions set out in the White Paper.