VocTech Impact - Case Studies

Technology

Monday 20th May 2019

VocTech Impact is all about harnessing digital to enable more adults to access the skills they need for work. It’s about using technology innovatively to make a difference to how people learn and crucially to the number of people gaining new skills – both during the lifespan of the project and beyond.
 
Ideas submitted for VocTech Impact funding need to offer sustainable, cost effective learning solutions that can be delivered at scale. Your proposal needs to be integral to your organisation’s vision for the future as you’ll need to demonstrate how you intend to take your product or service to market.
 
To help place the Impact funding criteria into a meaningful context for you we’ve put together a few real-life examples of previous VocTech Impact projects. You can see our criteria and guidelines for this funding round here - VocTech Impact 2019 Criteria (new window).


Bridgwater & Taunton College - PRACTICE Flow Rig 

(Practical Reactor Activity Centre; Thermodynamics, Instrumentation, Control & Electrics)
 
The Somerset-based college is home to National College for Nuclear’s Southern Hub and the work they’re doing is making a significant difference to the way that nuclear engineers develop their technical skills and behaviours. 
 
The college has built two exact replicas of a cooling system – once in reality and once in virtual reality. This allows apprentices to experience a nuclear environment and experiment without risk. Apprentices are fully ‘work ready’ before they even step in to the actual working nuclear environment.
 
PRACTICE is a clear example of a VocTech Impact project that is central to an organisation's vision for change. At all levels there is a drive to use the technology they have developed to do things differently - to challenge traditional ways of training and assessing nuclear engineers. A route to market has been established thanks to the early buy-in from their partners, a mix of local and national employers from within the industry, who have been involved in co-designing the rig and VR scenarios and evaluating their impact on skills development. As a result the partners have acted as 'ambassadors' inviting the college to speak at trade fairs and several high-profile events within the sector resulting in further valuable relationships being established.

See for yourself how the use of VR is benefiting learners and trainers in this Short Case Study Video (YouTube – New Window).


WhiteHat – Careerhacker.ai
 
We want to fund digital products that have maximum reach in order to help more learners benefit from more learning, more of the time. This has a knock-on effect on the technical considerations that projects need to consider when thinking about how their product or service is designed to enable scale.
 
Careerhacker.ai is an example of a project that has thought about how digital tech can enable them to scale their service so that it can benefit a large number of learners. The aim of their project was to reduce dropout rates in apprenticeships by using machine learning to better match apprentices to employers from the outset.
 
Careerhacker.ai can be likened to a multiple-choice personality test but there’s not five options, there’s not even a straight-down-the-middle mutual option, so you can’t even sit on the virtual fence. By removing the multiple-choice options users have to think more carefully about how they genuinely feel in response to each question and then move a horizontal slider between two options only - Eg. Agree/Disagree. The information now available to WhiteHat is much more granular and can offer better and quicker matching of applicants to the right apprenticeships. Ultimately the decision of which apprenticeship to take lies with the individual but Careerhacker.ai can offer up other ideas to explore that they may not have been considered by the apprentice. Better matching leads to lower dropout rates.
 
WhiteHat have thought about (amongst other things) how the service components of their product are capable of scaling up as demand grows. They have also adressed any potential security risks that such growth might cause, ensuring that user data can be harnessed effectively to support the machine learning-aided matching process whilst also being protected and managed in a way that is complaint with GDPR.


Open University – Open Networking Lab

Our ambition for VocTech Impact is that digital technology should enable large numbers of learners to benefit from the products and services that we fund.

One of the things that is front and centre in our thoughts when we review applications is whether applicants have a route to market and whether they have thought and understood enough about the needs of learners – and how they are going to find out about the product or service so that they can use it and benefit from it.

Open Networking Lab is an interesting example of how effective partnerships can help provide a route to access the target group of learners. The project was developed in partnership with CISCO Systems to provide a platform for anyone to learn introductory networking skills through a web-based network simulation package.

The partnership with CISCO has enabled the platform and content to be tested with the colleges, training providers and organisations that are part of the CISCO Networking Academy, giving them direct access to learners and a route to market for dissemination and promotion of the course


National Numeracy – Digital Solutions To Improving Numeracy In The Workplace
 
Recent research has shown that that only 22% of working adults in England have a numeracy skill level equivalent to GCSE grade C or above.
 
So how can an Impact project such as National Numeracy reach a large number of adults across the UK?
 
National Numeracy Day is a good starting point in dedicating one single day to highlight the issues around adult number skills in everyday life. Although numbers are important each and every day of the year it is an opportunity for the nation to come together and take the National Numeracy Challenge and encourage others to do the same.
 
National Numeracy offer a free-to-access and easy-to-use online platform that can be accessed anywhere and anytime – a brilliant example of reaching a large number of people.
 
In addition to just reaching a lot of people because of the simplicity of the tool it’s important to note that National Numeracy are also changing behaviours to numbers in the workplace by creating partnerships with companies of all sizes who are welcoming the research and then adopting a better culture towards numbers.
 
This year’s National Numeracy Day was just last week on 15th May and whilst the main aim was to get people talking about their own skills and how they can be improved it was also noted that National Numeracy now have over 40 partners and over 400 companies across the UK who all actively encourage their workforce to acknowledge their own abilities and the importance of every day numbers in everyday life.
 
Find out more about National Numeracy and take the National Numeracy Challenge (new window).


VocTech Impact offers £150,000 to £300,000 per project and is open for application from 5th June to 28th June 2019.

To support people wishing to apply we offer free workshops and webinars which offer the opportunity to learn more about Ufi, discover more about the fund, and also find out what a good application looks like. Workshops will also give people chance to discuss their project in more detail one-to-one with a member of our team.

Workshops this year will be in June in Edinburgh (5th), Lincoln (17th), and London (19th).

Sign up to attend a workshop or webinar here (new window).

Visit www.ufi.co.uk to discover more and sign up to our newsletter (new window).