Showcase 2018: The VocTech Community Continues to Thrive


For the first time in our history, we have been helping our portfolio of project partners to develop their businesses at the same time as running a call for new grant applicants. This pace has allowed Ufi to fund and support a truly unprecedented number of project partners and helped us inch towards a very important milestone; our 100th investment.

Many of these projects, as well as some Ufi alumni, will be on full display this month at our annual VocTech Showcase event – an opportunity for each project to show off their progress and network with the wider Ufi family.

At this time of year, I always find myself reflecting on the 12 months since the last VocTech Showcase. With so much going on, there has been plenty to reflect on.

One of the most exciting aspects has been seeing many of the early-stage projects we have invested in move their tech from concept to demonstration. A great example of this is the Digital Guild. Since partnering with Ufi, the Digital Guild has gone from prototyping a simple college digital badge solution to developing a fully-fledged work placement management and assessment tool, helping students to showcase their skills and fulfil the needs of local businesses.

Interestingly, we are also seeing far more projects that bring together a range of technologies, looking at the ways different tech can interact and complement each other to improve traditional training methods. For example, Blended Learning Essentials (BLE) has gone from strength to strength and has shown the importance of high quality technology solutions in the vocational teaching and training sector. BLE uses a mix of virtual learning environments, interactive videos, apps and other digital tools can be used by the average tutor and used to make their lesson more engaging and more effective.

Many of our projects are also having a significant impact on the sectors they are working with and we’re pleased to see them make an impact in the sector. National Composite Centre’s LayupRite was shortlisted for the CAMX awards for game-changing solutions.  By using their Augmented Reality solution, apprentices are able to quickly develop the manual skills required in laminating bespoke parts for the manufacturing industry. This has drastically cut down on the prohibitive costs involved in training apprentices.

On a broader level, it has been highly rewarding leading a company that is focused on developing solutions to some of the UK’s most pressing issues.

As you well know, this year’s headlines have been dominated by Brexit and the impact that leaving the EU may have on the skills gap of the British workforce. Now, more than ever, there must be a concerted effort from businesses and the government to improve the skills of UK workers.

The 4th industrial revolution has also featured prominently in the media, with the speed of disruption and digitalisation impacting a wide range of industries. Whether or not you believe the doomsayers, many workers in the UK will certainly find their jobs severely changed and largely diminished in the coming decade. If they do not have access to high quality vocational training that equips them for the challenges of tomorrow’s workplace, then we risk making an entire generation of workers obsolete.

Luckily we at Ufi and our project partners are all here to try to change this. It has been inspiring to see the progress that our project partners have made in developing solutions that will drastically improve vocational learning outcomes in the UK.

It has also been highly rewarding seeing project partners come together around these issues. A Ufi grant has always been more than just funding, it was always meant to be a door into a much wider VocTech community. In the past year this community has really developed into a wide network of passionate people who are always keen to share their experiences and support one another where possible.

Events like the VocTech Showcase are a great chance for our project partners to come together and continue expanding the VocTech community. To find out more about the 2018 VocTech Showcase and the projects that will be attending, click here.

You can join the conversation using #VocTech.

We hope to see you there!