VocTech Impact 2018 Projects | Ufi VocTech Trust

VocTech Impact 2018 Projects


Below are the projects we have funded as part of the Impact funding round which took place in 2018.



AgyliaCare – Agylia


Agylia is a well-established digital learning company who have received previous support from Ufi to test their technology - the Agylia platform - which underpins this project.  Their aim is to use this platform to transform access to learning and task support for carers in the UK Care sector.

There are 6.5 million unpaid carers across the UK.  They receive little or no training and support in their crucial roles. There is no coherent national training and support strategy for them - current provision is patchy, some through local authorities (reducing due to budget cuts) and some by a variety of charities. Public websites such as YouTube have unregulated content of mixed quality and authenticity. Longer eLearning courses are available on charity and government websites, but these are not personalised and are often not optimised for mobiles.

This project aims to change this by using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to identify, trigger and distribute a personalised selection of training materials and relevant task support tools via an App on a Carers’ phones, PCs or tablets, online or offline. Training will be tracked and optionally lead to the award of a training certificate.  Agylia will bring together a library of training and support modules, consisting of over 200 pieces of microlearning, optimised for mobile devices, plus over 200 parallel podcasts. The service will also include discussion forums and commenting trails. Agylia are working with Skills for Care, a leading national skills charity for the social care sector.  

The project will provide a way for unpaid carers to have their skills recognised. Carers are outside mainstream education and training, and the option of gaining a Certificate is a positive move towards validating their skills, boosting confidence and potentially helping them towards mainstream work after their family caring responsibilities end. 

Agylia intend to provide this learning and support as a free service to the unpaid carer sector, with more comprehensive versions available for Care sector employers.


Contact:Tim Buff TimB@Agylia.com
Website: https://www.agylia.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AgyliaGroup
Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/company/agylia/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Agylia



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Assessing Reality – ecom Scotland


The Assessing Reality project will see eCom develop a Virtual Reality (VR) authoring tool that will enable non-technical staff in organisations, awarding bodies and colleges to create cost-effective VR assessments, directly on the web. This will improve learner engagement and will also provide relevant analytics for assessors.

VR is ideal for vocational assessment because it will make assessment more:

  • Relevant to work situations - real workplace settings can be replicated in a safe environment, without incurring any additional equipment, resources or staffing costs
  • Consistent - assessments can be exactly the same each time
  • Transparent - tutors, managers or assessors will be able to see exactly what the user can see and measure their reactions in the virtual environment.

The Assessing Reality project sees eCom partner with City of Glasgow College, Fife College and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). The SQA have identified that many paper-based skills and knowledge assessments do not fully measure the candidate’s capabilities or practical knowledge. eCom’s VR authoring tool will solve this problem and eCom are now working with SQA to plan how VR assessments could be aligned to their course content and assessment requirements. Product testing will be with learners from Fife College and City of Glasgow College and both of these organisations are looking at using VR to support their assessment processes.

eCom’s scalable solution will be developed as a Software as a Service (SaaS) product and will be proactively marketed by eCom, helping to improve vocational assessments in various sectors.

Building on eCom’s previous Ufi supported VR project, Digging Into The Past, Assessing Reality is expected to create a ripple effect throughout the learning industry. Changes to how virtual reality assessments are viewed are expected, paving the way for authentic and relevant assessments moving forward, specifically in vocational education.


Contact: Andrew Rourke andrew.rourke@ecomscotland.com
Website: https://www.ecomscotland.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/eComScotland
Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ecom-scotland
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eComScotland


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Cities of Learning – RSA & Digitalme


Cities of Learning creates new pathways into learning and employment by connecting and amplifying formal, informal, and in work learning opportunities that exist across cities via a system of digital open badges.

Research conducted by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has shown that learning opportunities are often fragmented between formal, non-formal and in-work, without clear pathways for engagement and progression. Access to opportunities are not widely shared across the population, participation is often related to prior life experiences of learning, and those least advantaged are least likely to benefit from important opportunities to build social, cultural and knowledge capital, as well as social and peer networks.

Cities of Learning is a new approach to tackling these issues, aiming to cultivate a grassroots, city-based, mass-engagement movement around learning and skills, building on the experience of the Chicago City of Learning and the LRNG Cities programme.  Previously Ufi supported a small pilot project with the RSA to test the concept and develop the prototype, working with over 100 public, private and community stakeholders in Plymouth, Brighton and Greater Manchester.

Cities of Learning will provide a place-based model for vocational learning and skill development by establishing large scale collaborative partnerships with employers, learning providers, city leaders and commissioners of learning and work provision, initially in two pilot cities – Brighton and Plymouth. Ufi funding will be used to develop and roll out a scalable digital infrastructure (platform and open digital badges) as a mechanism to connect individuals to local learning and work opportunities, narrow skills gaps and support the delivery of local skills strategies.

By connecting locally-generated, locally-relevant learning opportunities more clearly to local work opportunities, the project also aims to encourage participation of those furthest from the learning and labour market. It offers opportunities for learners to be reconnected with vocational learning and to gain micro-credentials (digital badges) to recognise achievement and encourage progression.



Contact: Rosie Clayton rosie.clayton@rsa.org.uk
Website: www.thersa.org
Twitter: @theRSAorg twitter.com/theRSAorg 
Linked In: www.linkedin.com/company/royal-society-for-the-encouragement-of-arts-man...
Facebook: @theRSAorg www.facebook.com/theRSAorg/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thersaorg/  

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Engineering Apprentices Mate - Augmented Reality Apps - GTA England


Group Training Associations (GTAs) are employer led training providers, focused on delivering high quality provision to key industrial sectors through public-private learning partnerships where employers subscribe to off-the-job training centres to provide efficient, expertly delivered skills. 

GTA England have tested their proof-of-concept app ‘the Engineering Apprentices Mate’ with a small number of partners across the UK and this project aims to expand and scale this across the GTA network of 32 providers in England, with a reach of around 7,000 engineering apprentices per annum and 300 instructors.  The proof-of-concept was well received and demonstrated how it could benefit providers of all sizes. 

The Engineering Apprentices Mate is a point and play augmented reality (AR) learning experience for engineering apprentices, allowing a piece of machinery or equipment to provide the apprentice with immediate access to individual learning, support and assessment activities mapped to the new apprenticeship standards (machining, product design, electrical, maintenance).  Machines trigger content, created by engineering instructors across the GTA network, which is accessed via the app or wearable technology, meeting the needs of apprentices during their apprenticeship training as well as supporting revision for end-point assessments. Away from the workshop or factory floor areas, the app can be used with photographs of the machinery, as well as accessing the non-augmented reality aspects of the app (the gallery, information about the machine provider and contact information).

Initially, GTAs will be used to showcase the app to their networks of employers and apprentices, as a potential training tool that they can use to support the apprenticeship. The longer-term vision is to create a free app for apprentices, obtainable via android app stores. GTA England will, via their website, offer the ability for the wider FE sector and employer provider to purchase the source code and technical documentation so that they can be repurposed to support other apprenticeship provision.


Contact: Mark Maudsley mark.maudsley@gtaengland.co.uk
Website: www.gta-england.co.uk
Twitter: @gta_england
Linked In: www.linkedin.com/company/gta-england-limited


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This project, led by PACEY – the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, aims to achieve a step-change in how CPD can support childcare practitioners, harnessing digital technology to enable them to learn for free, at times and in ways that suit them, with the assurance that the learning provided is compliant with regulations.

Regulation is changing for early years providers and childcare practitioners who, in order to be allowed to care for 0-5 year olds, must demonstrate they are meeting Ofsted’s new education inspection framework and the requirements set out for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).

The EY-Smart platform will offerbite-sized CPD modules to help childcare practitioners with this process. It will enable them to better understand what these changes are and how they can support children in their care to reach the underlying developmental stages they need to be ready for school.

EY-Smart will provide users with interactive tools to self-evaluate the areas of the EYFS/EIF regulations they need to understand further as well as access to modules summarising the key changes. The platform will lead learners into CPD modules directly related to their personal requirements. Content will be delivered in bite sized chunks, through video observation of good practice, peer learning, curated searches etc.

An EY-Smart e-tracker will help learners to monitor their progress, celebrate milestones and share ideas with colleagues. EY-Smart will create an online learning community with a ‘social’ approach to learning in which participants can share success with peers, receive goal-based rewards, all with the assurance of content from PACEY.

EY-SMART will remain core to the charitable objectives of PACEY and will be free to access.  The project aims develop a sustainability plan to continue to offer EY-Smart for free and to keep the platform up to date, through PACEY’s other income sources such as paid-for training and advertising.

Contact: Annabel Hardy-King  Annabel.Hardy-King@pacey.org.uk
Website: www.pacey.org.uk
Twitter: @paceychildcare
Linked In: /professional-association-for-childcare-and-early-years
Facebook: @paceylocal
Instagram: @paceychildcare


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FlashAcademy® Workplace - Learning Labs


The Learning Labs team includes teachers, linguists and techies, who are exploring how technology can be used to remove barriers to learning. Already working successfully with schools (see www.flashacademy.com/educators), it is expanding its service into the workplace.

With over 100+ native languages spoken by the UK workforce, employers face real challenges in delivering sector specific training. Explaining technical vocabulary to someone who does not have English as their first language is complex and there is currently no digital solution to this challenge. Ufi’s VocTech Seed funding helped Learning Labs develop a successful proof-of-concept which has attracted significant potential interest from the private sector.

The project will work closely with partner organisations, working at both employee and senior leadership levels to build core industry-specific curriculum content focused initially at supporting workers in the automotive and construction sectors.  It will incorporate a baseline assessment tool to enable employers to gauge the English language proficiency of their staff; and a CMS to enable employers to add organisation specific content.

FlashAcademy® Workplace supports adult workers who are disadvantaged by not having English as their first language, to gain employment and advance their careers. Employees learn with short burst lessons, virtual tutors, engaging games and even the world’s first object translator. All learning is tracked on a dashboard, to enable employers to evidence their employees understanding and progress. There will be a significant discovery phase that will work iteratively towards developing the platform solution as well as a sustainable business model. 

FlashAcademy® Workplace is being developed with the support of Jaguar Land Rover and its supplier network. The project is seeking additional corporate partners across all sectors, interested in participating in development/testing to support a diverse workforce.

The project has great potential to scale and impact a large number of learners.  The current industry partners (BAM Construction and Jaguar Land Rover) are championing the product through their supply chains, and their apprenticeship providers through the involvement of South & City College apprenticeships team. Once proven to be effective with the pilot companies, Learning Labs plan to scale up nationally, initially in the automotive and construction sectors.

For more information see: https://flashacademy.com/workplace


Contact: Veejay Lingiah veejay@flashacademy.com
Website: https://flashacademy.com/workplace/
Twitter: @FlashAcademy_HQ
Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/company/learninglabs&flashacademyhq/
Facebook: @flashacademyHQ
Instagram: @FlashAcademy_HQ


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iDEA - Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award


The Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award (iDEA) is an innovative digital badge concept, helping to plug the UK’s digital skills gap, with content designed to inspire people to become digital citizens, workers, makers, entrepreneurs and gamers. The different learning categories cover diverse topics including cyber security, cloud computing and e-safety; as well as animation, growth hacking, customer relationship management and web development.

iDEA uses a blended learning approach that aspires to be a digital and enterprise equivalent of The Duke of Edinburgh Award. Participants take on a series of challenges to earn points which aggregate towards their Bronze, Silver or Gold Inspiring Digital Enterprise Awards. The iDEA badges provide flexible learning, available to anyone free of charge, when and where they want to learn. They can be done by independent learners, or in classrooms and workshops.

Ufi supported the development of the Bronze and Silver levels. iDEA reached a quarter of a million users in the two years since launching the Bronze Award, with more than 1.3 million badges completed.  The team is now developing the Gold Award level and aims to engage additional Partners from the worlds of business, industry and enterprise as an important route to new learners accessing and make sure that Gold Award vocational badges are tied to skills needs.

By working in partnership with organisations such as schools, charities, local authorities, and employers, iDEA aims to play a key role in helping to co-create coherence in the digital and enterprise skills learning landscape. iDEA learners are incentivised to become digital all-rounders, with the opportunity to take their learning deeper into specific areas of interest by combining a series of badges.


Contact: Kerensa Jennings Kerensa.Jennings@royal.uk
Website:  https://iDEA.org.uk
Twitter:  @idea_award
LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/thedukeofyork
Facebook: @ideaaward
Instagram: @ideaaward


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Nucleus In-Cell Technology – MegaNexus


MegaNexus has extensive experience developing ICT solutions across the prison and probation estate and understands the security constraints involved. Their Virtual Campus platform is the primary learning and through-the-gate digital platform operating in every prison in England and Wales. Service users cannot currently access learning whilst in cell but can access over 5,000 resources when they are in the education wing or designated learning area which is for approximately 2-3 hours per week.

 MegaNexus will develop their existing portal and leverage their relationships with the prison service to deliver this project which aims to extend the use of the Virtual Campus, through the provision of learning via secure mobile devices. The mobile devices will operate within prison cells and can be used independently by offenders. Nucleus will enable the individual to utilise their time effectively, accessing educational and vocational resources, providing opportunities to build skillsets, furthering their chances of breaking the reoffending cycle and successfully rehabilitating upon release.

The secure devices will provide access to content calibrated to complement the government’s nine pathways to reducing reoffending. Learning materials will be provided primarily by leading educational establishments including Manchester College/NOVUS; Weston College; Milton Keynes College; BBC, and the Open University. Service users will also access live jobs, CV builders and interactive content on behavioural change. Educational courses will be added to an individual service user’s allocation by the service user themselves or by the tutor/caseworker. The devices themselves will be fully secure, tested for durability, cleared for software level access to the National Offender Management Information System (NOMIS) via APIs and connected through a variety of connectivity solutions dependant on the location, structure, and accessibility of the individual prison.

The Nucleus project plans to roll out across prisons in three phases: Proof of Concept, Pilot and Deployment, gradually increasing the numbers of prisons and prisoners taking part, from 2-10 and 130 – 1,040 respectively. 


Contact: Richard West richard.west@meganexus.com
Website: www.meganexus.com
Twitter: @meganexusltd
Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/company/meganexus-ltd
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MegaNexus/


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Passive Accreditation in Prisons - Fluence


Supported by Ufi through its VocTech Amplify funding, Fluence has developed a highly accurate, AI-assisted decision-making engine that emulates the decision logic of educators.

Learning providers can input content, such as work assignments, into the Fluence engine, along with decisions made about the content (e.g. grades) and the Fluence algorithm learns to replicate the decision logic of educators on all future content. Through this project, the technology has the potential to make a genuine step change in prison education by improving the accreditation of vocational learning for 85,000 vulnerable learners in prisons, who are currently being let down by the limitations of existing accreditation models.

Currently, 47% of prisoners have no formal qualifications and to help overcome this, all UK prisoners are obliged to engage with vocational training as part of their sentence. Learning providers have to address the challenge of delivering training within the complex and transient environment of prisons where learners may be moved to another institution or released before their qualification can be completed.

Fluence is working in partnership with Novus on this project. Novus is asocial enterprise providing education in prisons and is the largest secure training provider in the UK. By using Fluence technology to automate this function, the aim is to increase the number of qualifications being awarded to individuals before they leave prison, thus improving educational outcomes and prisoners’ long-term employability prospects.

Fluence intends to apply auto-grading technology to convert ‘naturally occurring evidence’ from the work produced by prisoners on site as part of the learning process, into formal evidence of their abilities. The objective is to turn the process of assessment and accreditation into a passive process, happening silently in the background, while teachers focus on teaching. The project will work with vocational learning programmes in three prisons, using data from these to train the Fluence algorithm and create a comprehensive catalogue of all recognised ‘types’ of naturally occurring evidence.

The project outcome once validated, could be ground-breaking for the accreditation framework in vocational programmes, recognised by leading awarding bodies. This can then be rolled out across the prison education service through Novus’ training programmes.


Contact: Jennifer Hore Jennifer@fluence.world
Website: www.fluence.world
Twitter: @FluenceWorld
Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/company/fluence-world/
Instagram: @FluenceLife


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Prince’s Trust online – Prince's Trust


The Prince’s Trust is dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged young people in the UK, helping 11 to 30-year-olds to transform their lives. Prince’s Trust programmes give young people the practical and financial support they need to stabilise their lives.  There are 843,000 young people across the UK, who are not in education, employment or training. Currently the Prince’s Trust only help around 5% of them through their traditional face-to-face service. Each year they receive nearly 150,000 enquiries but can only support 58,000 young people.

95% of young people now own a smart phone and Prince’s Trust Online was launched just over a year ago to enable the development of a more flexible and versatile approach to providing support. By using both mobile technology and online learning content, the number of young people benefiting from the Prince’s Trust can significantly increase. This project will enable further development of Prince’s Trust Online so that it becomes the digital gateway for all Prince’s Trust programmes. This will provide many more young people with access to information and support, that will equip them with the skills and confidence to live, learn and earn.  Ufi funding will specifically be used to develop bespoke tools to connect young people with vocational learning content to help them secure a job.

The project will provide every young person who approaches The Prince’s Trust with a personalised journey giving them tailored support, securing early engagement with young people to help prevent drop-off while they wait for a programme to begin. Young people will become part of a community and have access to a flexible on-demand service that is responsive to their lifestyle, needs and expectations. It will also enable The Prince’s Trust to expand its services to different geographic areas and to extend the power of its network of corporate and delivery partners who will be able to provide online content, training and job opportunities.


Contact: Vasilia Nicolaou Vasilia.Nicolaou@princes-trust.org.uk
Website: https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/
Twitter: @PrincesTrust
Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/company/the-princes-trust/
Facebook: https://en-gb.facebook.com/princestrust/
Instagram: @princestrust


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Scaling with the crowd – Beam


Beam is an award-winning organisation that crowdfunds employment training for disadvantaged people. Together with Ufi, Beam will enable new vocational learning opportunities for its first disadvantaged group: people who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness. People are referred to Beam by top homeless charities and then become a member of their community, receiving a bespoke training and employment plan and support from a Beam employee. The crowdfunding model is designed to support people into paid work, through vocational training that has recognised and accredited quality and removes other financial barriers to gaining skills, including the costs of childcare and equipment. Beam has tested the concept with a small group of users and more than 20 Beam members are now in paid employment, following training funded through donations.

The project will support the move from proof-of-concept to full roll out. It will build on the existing prototype to scale the number of learners that engage and benefit. This will include developing the website and supporting infrastructure, with a focus on building a mobile UI and UX for homeless members and donors. Innovative support for the homeless members will be improved through a private area of the website with messaging, ability to support each other’s progress and testing of peer support and mentoring. The project will also strengthen the community between donors and members by allowing members of the public to follow the members’ progress and offer messages of support along the way, with a news-feed style interface and notifications. Beam have already won an award for ‘Best use of Technology in the Homeless Sector’.

Beam has built strong partnerships with local authorities and homelessness charities and proposes to use scalable digital technology to grow the number of adults who can access vocational learning provision, filling skills shortages and demonstrating that vocational learning can be made more widely.  It will show how technology can be used to provide access for everyone including those who have disengaged from mainstream learning and those who are furthest removed from the job market. 


Contact: Alex Stephany alex@beam.org
Website: www.beam.org
Twitter: @wearebeam
Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/company/wearebeam/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wearebeam/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wearebeamuk/


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Vocational Game-Based Learning - Applio


This project is a partnership between Applio, who are specialists in designing and developing game-based learning and the BMET Rail Academy and Business and Professional Career College. It aims to use games-based-learning (GBL) to deliver business and professional skills to learners; and to create new authoring tools which will provide wider access to games based learning, which is often financially out of reach for smaller organisations.

The GBL resources it creates will be aimed at improving the professional skills of young learners entering the workplace, in areas such as situational judgement, communication, problem solving and team working. These will replace current approaches where learning is delivered face-to-face through expensive, labour intensive workshops or through e-learning which often proves to be less effective.

Creating good GBL is costly and complex. Although there are games creation tools on the market, it remains largely the domain of professionals.  This project aims to solve that problem by providing content and tools to facilitate, low cost GBL development. The project will create a simplified version of the underlying games authoring tool that can be used without specific technical skills and that will bring GBL within the reach of smaller organisations and employers.

Applio will work with the BMET College to create digital games-based learning resources which will provide learning experiences similar to those of face-to-face workshops. BMET teaching personnel will be taught how to use the tool to create and deploy GBL solutions. BMET’s Rail Academy, Professional Services Academy and Digital Learning faculties will co-create the new content and then measure results outcomes to evaluate the learning outcomes from the new GBL approach. This is a strong private-public partnership between an established digital learning expert and a well-connected college which provides potential access to up to 25,000 learners.

The project will also offer a free subset of the developed content outputs to any UK SME that is currently unable to source such learning for its employees and will allow organisations to adapt the content offered to suit their own learner needs. It will also take account of how OFSTED currently evaluates ‘softer/wider skills’ across its inspections.


Contact: Peter O'Brien Peter.OBrien@applio.net
Website: www.applio.net
Twitter: @appliogames
Linked In: Applio
Facebook: @gamescienceHELM


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Waypoint - Marine Society and Sea Cadet Organisation (MSSC)



MSSC was formed in 2004 and is the parent charity for two well established charities, the Sea Cadets and Marine Society. Both help people to achieve more and make a life for themselves, often in very difficult times, through a diverse range of training and development. This project aims to exploit opportunities to transform how their learning systems and processes are delivered digitally, to open access and improve outcomes for over 14,000 cadets across the UK.

Waypoint will be an interactive portal, accessible via smart phone or tablet, that will allow learners to have a clear view and perspective on opportunities available to them, the learning journey and what their next steps could be. It will showcase the diverse range of training and career opportunities available nationally through the Sea Cadets and in the marine industry (sailing, catering, engineering, etc); provide access to courses available to Cadets based on their vocational training and career interests/needs; enable Cadets to share information about what they are getting involved in and what they think about those experiences/courses; and enable achievements to be presented professionally in a comprehensive record of achievement and qualifications gained via the Cadet Experience Dashboard. 

The project is adopting a user driven, practical approach.  Users have been involved in the development of the prototype and shaping of the concept. The platform has a social element where users can see what courses and events their friends are doing and rank what they have achieved.  It has potential to have a positive impact on those over 16, who are more likely to drop out of Sea Cadets, providing an alternative pathway to school or college by managing their skills development and vocational training, with the support of their local Sea Cadet group. 

Waypoint will transform the Sea Cadets offer, shifting the focus away from evaluating outputs e.g. boating hours and towards a focus on outcomes, such as increased vocational qualifications and employment opportunities. 


Contact: Daniel McAllister dmcallister@ms-sc.org
Website: www.sea-cadets.org
Twitter: @SeaCadetsUK
Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/company/marine-society-&-sea-cadets/
Facebook: /SeaCadetsUK
Instagram: /seacadetsuk


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