VocTech Challenge: White Paper

Skills for an Economy in Transition

Our commitments to #GetAdultsLearning

Announcing a new and ambitious £3m programme of work and funding, in partnership with Learning and Work Institute, to #GetAdultsLearning

Ufi VocTech Trust (Ufi) and Learning and Work Institute (L&W) are proud to announce 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.

"At a time of skills shortage and rapid economic transition, it is essential that everyone in the UK has the opportunity to develop the skills they need. By getting adults learning, including those currently not well served by mainstream provision, we will create the foundation for secure and equitable economic growth that gives everyone in the UK the capacity to thrive".

Drawing on extensive research and consultation, our 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.

Together, let's #GetAdultsLearning.

Download the White Paper (.pdf)

Scroll down to read our six commitments and join the movement.

Re-watch the launch announcement

The VocTech Challenge White Paper was launched on the 20th June 2023. For a quick introduction, re-watch the announcement from Rebecca Garrod-Waters, CEO of Ufi and Stephen Evans, CEO of Learning and Work Institute.

This White Paper sets out a bold and ambitious programme of work to achieve our goal of creating a step-change in adult participation in learning.

We are committing £3million to:

VocTech Challenge diagram
  1. Launch the VocTech Future of Skills Award

    The VocTech Future of Skills Award will support big, practical, tech-enabled ideas, from thought leaders, futurists and new thinkers that will help us get more adults learning.

    We want to hear about what it is that Ufi, L&W and our partners could do to enable greater participation in adult learning. We want to hear about the digital technologies, the practical solutions and the people who are making a difference in their communities. We are looking for a bold vision for the future, that will drive adult participation in learning and is grounded in practical solutions.

    Winners of the VocTech Future of Skills Award were announced in November 2023 at the Ufi VocTech Showcase held as part of the Week of VocTech.
    Explore the winning visions.

  2. Co-create a new programme of place-based collaboration

    We will work with L&W to co-create a programme of activity that will:

    - Identify four locations across the UK where there is a need for greater participation in adult learning and skills, desire from local leaders to work collaboratively, and a network of partners able to deliver a programme of work.
    - Work together to identify the biggest challenges in each area, the key local problems that are holding back adult participation in learning and consider what actions we can take together to address those barriers.
    - Support tech-based solutions that can transform adult participation in learning and utilise the full range of expertise and resources that Ufi and L&W have to offer.

    The programme of place-based collaboration will be developed and scoped over the next 12 months and is anticipated to last for a further 24 months.

  3. Open a grant call

    In June 2024 we will launch an open grant call. We will use the call to seek VocTech solutions that can address the key local challenges identified in each of the four place-based collaboration areas. We will ask applicants to consider how they could work with our local partners to pilot and build test beds for solutions that will drive-up adult participation in learning through the use of technology.

    We want these grant funded projects to have the capacity to scale, so that if they get more local adults learning, they could also be rolled out across the UK.

  4. Support scalable solutions with venture investment

    Ufi Ventures will offer support to organisations which show exceptional commercial potential, including potentially through direct investment, helping them grow their businesses and scale the impact of their solutions to learners across the UK.

  5. Evaluate our place-based collaboration

    The evaluation will adopt a realist approach to explore and demonstrate the impact of our interventions and the critical drivers and mechanisms for change. We will develop a range of measures aimed at assessing our impact at a local level and demonstrating the power of the interventions we support. This will be evidenced through robust, theory-informed data gathering and analysis exercises, and engagement with stakeholders, providers, employers and learners, to identify what elements are most effective, for whom and why.

  6. Lead an advocacy campaign

    We will develop a programme of advocacy focused on highlighting the importance of tackling low levels of participation in adult learning and skills. We will use the evidence we collect through our evaluation, the grant funded projects, local collaboration, and venture investment to make the case more powerfully for practical solutions that get adults learning. We will convince thought leaders, policy makers and practitioners of the value of addressing the core challenge of adult participation in learning and offer the practical solutions to change the UK’s skills system for the better.

Join the movement!

Organisations focused on adult skills are encouraged to get involved with the programme and help #GetAdultsLearning.

To keep up to date and hear about opportunities to get involved with the programme, please complete this form. We will sign you up to the Ufi Community Newsletter and contact you directly when there are opportunities for involvement.

Your details will be used in accordance with the Ufi Privacy Policy and will be shared with our project partner, Learning and Work Institute, in order to communicate with you around this VocTech Challenge programme.

Background to the White Paper

In January 2023, Ufi VocTech Trust and Learning and Work Institute announced a new strategic partnership aimed at accelerating the adoption and deployment of technology to help every adult in the UK get the skills they need to participate and benefit from our transitioning economy.

On 24 April 2023, we released our VocTech Challenge: Skills for an Economy in Transition Green Paper. This paper was the first output of our partnership with L&W and for the following six weeks we consulted with stakeholders, our partners, and the organisations we support to consider what steps we can collectively take to significantly increase adult participation in learning.

Our White Paper, launched on the 20th June, aims to respond to the Green Paper’s research findings and problem statements and sets out our commitments to an ambitious programme of work and funding to transform adult participation in learning.


  • Skills for an Economy in Transition

    Two young professionals working together using a laptop and computer screen.

    Accelerating the adoption and deployment of technology to help every adult in the UK get the skills they need for work.

  • Green Paper

    VocTech Challenge Green Paper 2023 - Thumbnail

    Download the VocTech Challenge: Skills for an Economy in Transition Green Paper.