From education to employment

Redefining Vocational Education with #VocTechPodcast

Sophie Bailey, Founder, The Edtech Podcast

In New Zealand, a seven-part major reform of Vocational Education is under-way.

The reforms include consulting with industry more closely, shifting workplace learning from independent training organisations to providers, and rethinking funding.

In our latest podcast series, The Voctech Podcast: Learning Continued, I spoke to Shaun Gear, Integration Adviser- Employer, Business and Industry, Ministry of Education of New Zealand about these reforms.

Clearly, like any Government proposal, this is an evolving animal, but the focus was on professionalising Vocational Education, simplifying the offer, and making it more relevant to both employers and adult learners.

Back in the U.K, chancellor, Sajid Javid recently announced a funding boost of £400 million in education for 16- to 19-year-olds.

Though the investment is the largest in a decade, and in a sector sorely in need of investment, many are sceptical. The likelihood of the current Government being able to implement funding and policy next year seems low, and any funding commitment and shifts in qualifications need to be sustained, not one-offs.

Funnily enough, I haven’t had Sajid Javid on our podcast. I think he’s been a bit pre-occupied lately, though with what I really couldn’t tell you.

However, I’m really delighted that alongside our policy adviser guests from New Zealand and Finland, we also have a regular Further Education feature.

These audio bites will give a sense of musings on the ground, in the U.K FE sector on vocational education.

For example, Rory Meredith, Head Of School for Creative Industries at Coleg y Cymoedd / Visiting Lecturer at the University of South Wales was recently interviewed by Ian Hurd, a senior external moderator at the University of the Arts London.

In this particular interview, Rory talks about how to keep future-focused, inspired by his collaboration with the Singularity University. Being future-focused is also something the Association of Colleges are working on through their secretariat role for the New Independent Commission on the College of the Future, and we look forward to welcoming their commissioners as guests on the podcast.

Going back to the reforms in New Zealand; funding and working with employers were two themes. In our upcoming series, we aim to bring all perspectives into dialogue. On funding we have Owen Henkel, Director, Pearson Ventures, on a $50m fund for lifelong learning innovation.

On employers, we chat to Richard Price, Learning Technologies Advisor, Health England (NHS England) – on scaling training and innovation across a major employer, plus Henrietta Palmer, Learning Solutions Manager, TUI – on artificial intelligence and corporate learning and development, and Rajeeb Dey MBE, Founder, Learnerbly – on employees driving their own learning.

To keep things grounded in community and local learning, we also spoke to Dr Peter Shukie, Academic Group Leader, Creative and Digital, University Centre Blackburn College on COOCS.

Don’t know what that is? Listen in!

In this podcast series our aim is to help share what is happening in vocational and adult education, corporate training and the future of work, both in the U.K and around the world.

We’ll be asking;

  • How are organisations re-training their employees as the nature of work and the skills in demand changes?
  • Is there a skills shortage or are we poor at developing existing talent?
  • How are vocational education providers, further education colleges and private training organisations working together to support adult learners?
  • What investment is being made in the adult education space?
  • What is the role of corporate culture and technology in moving things forward?

If this is of interest to you, and you are passionate about vocational and adult education, and how it develops, we would love for you to be involved.

  • You can subscribe by searching for “The Edtech Podcast” on iTunes or Spotify
  • You can come along to our launch on the 18th (if you’re in London)… 
  • We encourage all contributions, either via social media @podcastedtech #voctechpodcast or by leaving a 90 second voicemail for inclusion in our next episode at

Through our existing conversations we’ve learnt about how NHS Health Education England are building a digital ready workforce and reflecting on the digital capabilities of their teams. We’ve also heard about a 7-part major reform of Vocational Education in New Zealand, and how artificial intelligence aided a learning and development programme at holiday-operator Tui, under budget and time pressure commitments.

As initiatives grow to give employees budget for their own personal development, we’ve noted companies like Valamis (Finland) and Learnerbly (UK) supporting this development. We’ve also noted how funding has pivoted towards lifelong learning, with both Pearson Ventures and Village Capital following this trend.

We look forward to hearing about your own work in this space.

Sophie Bailey, Founder, The Edtech Podcast

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