VocTech Challenge: Skills for an economy in transition

The VocTech Challenge 2023 aims to accelerate the adoption and deployment of technology to help every adult in the UK get the skills they need to participate & benefit from our transitioning economy. 


19 01 2023

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Ufi and Learning and Work Institute have come together at a time of rapid change in the UK economy and labour market, where we see that the UK’s needs will not be met unless there is greater and more equitable access to skills. 

We know that economic growth comes from a better skilled workforce, and that must include every part of that workforce. For us, this means ensuring that everyone has the chance to develop skills for work. We can take big steps forward into a future economy and labour market where people aren’t just playing catch up but have the chance to thrive in new industries and sectors.  

Together, we believe that equitable growth will require new skills strategies for an economy and labour market in transition and that the very best technology has a key role to play in opening access and opportunity, so that no one is left behind. 

Find out more about UfI’s previous VocTech Challenge programmes.

VocTech Challenge: Skills for an economy in transition will explore the question:

How can VocTech (learning technology, digital tools and pedagogies) help narrow inequalities and ensure every adult can participate in learning throughout their working lives, so that the UK has the skills it needs for an economy in transition? 

We are particularly interested in how the challenges of upskilling and reskilling are faced and overcome by:  

  • Career changers (adults who need to re-skill in order to thrive at work)  
  • Those furthest away from learning (adults who are not currently in work, who do not have easy access to vocational education)
  • Others for whom different exclusionary factors are impacting their ability to gain the skills they need. 

How will we do it 

This VocTech Challenge is a partnership between Ufi VocTech Trust and Learning and Work Institute (L&W), supported by individuals and organisations across the sector.  

We will review existing research and good practice, challenging current assumptions testing them against evidence from the real, lived experiences of learners and people working in the vocational and adult skills sector.  

Through workshops, consultation and interviews we want to hear the voices of those who are not often heard. We will look for new insights and ideas that are practical and actionable, not just what is already common knowledge.   

Together we will publish our findings in a series of articles which, along with UfI’s research will inform a white paper that sets out a programme of grant funding, partnerships, and advocacy. 

The challenge programme will start in January 2023, with the white paper being published in June 2023 and shaping Ufi and partners’ work over the following two years.  

Why UfI have partnered with Learning and Work Institute  

L&W has been at the forefront of shaping thinking and policy around lifelong learning, employment, and inclusion for many years. We research what works, influence policy, develop new ways of thinking, and help implement new approaches.  

You can read more about our Strategic Partnership here.

Skills for an Economy in Transition Timetable 

January 2023 – Skills for an Economy in Transition VocTech Challenge are both launched.  

February to March 2023 – Consultation with stakeholders, learners, and practitioners.  

April 2023 – Publication of initial findings.

April to May 2023 – Further consultation and consideration of the actions Ufi, partners and other stakeholders can take to address the identified challenge. 

June 2023 onwards – Launch of the Skills for an Economy in Transition white paper, connected Ufi grant call, and new partnership and advocacy work.

Stay connected 

If you would like to keep up to date or get involved, sign up on Ufi's website. They will add you to the Ufi Community Newsletter and contact you directly when there are opportunities for involvement.