From education to employment

Ufi Reaches Milestone In Funding Programme

Ufi VocTech Trust has made more than 200 offers of funding to VocTech projects since it began grant funding in 2013.

The charity hit the impressive milestone this month following its latest funding call, VocTech Now, which was a direct response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Ufi holds a variety of funding calls every year as part of its mission to change the future of vocational education through innovative uses of digital technology.

Since its inception, Ufi has made offers of funding totalling over £20,000,000 to projects across the UK in sectors that include Health & Social Care, Food Production, Manufacturing, Textiles, Dentistry, Nuclear, and more.

Ufi’s first ever project was in January 2013 and since then, through a diverse programme of grant calls, have supported over 100 organisations in the development of vocational technology – ‘VocTech’.

Alongside specific grant calls, Ufi have been operating two main funding programmes; VocTech Seed and VocTech Impact.

VocTech Seed is Ufi’s testbed where early ideas can be developed to better understand market need and test out ideas with small groups.

VocTech Impact supports the scaling of ideas that are already proven and need further support to reach a wider number of learners.

Ufi has also operated specialist funding calls which aims to support specific challenges.

These have included a Manufacturing call and more recently, the VocTech Now call which was Ufi’s direct response the challenges faced in vocational education due to Covid-19.

The 200 projects are spread far and wide across the UK from Devon to the Outer Hebrides and amount to more than £20,000,000 in funding awarded.

Commenting on the 200th project milestone, Tom Wilson, Chair of Ufi’s Board of Trustees said:

Giving money away for education sounds easy, and there is no shortage of deserving causes, but Ufi wanted to make a real difference. We chose to focus on the use of digital technology for adult vocational learning and disadvantaged or under-served groups – the ‘unloved’.

We wanted more focus on practical local examples where small funds could make a big difference and to show that investment in new ideas could bring both educational and cash returns. We didn’t want to lead policy but let our projects do the leading by reflecting their learned experience.

In the beginning, we started slowly and cautiously, learning as we went.

Together we have learned much:

  • Multiplying the impact of grant can happen when we encourage our projects to share with each other.
  • Good advice can be just as helpful as the cash.
  • Ideas don’t sell themselves; they still need marketing and an active community of early adopters and innovators.
  • Understanding people is often more important than understanding technology.
  • There’s a myriad of great VocTech ideas waiting to be funded.​​​​​​

All of that learning has made Ufi a leading source of expertise for Vocational Technology.

Our reputation has been built by sticking to our founding principles and letting the projects do the talking.

The impact caused through the 200 projects we have funded is huge and the number of people who have benefited by our work is thought to be in the millions.

Everyone should have access to online vocational learning – we show that’s possible.

Today we celebrate a stunning milestone – our 200th project.

The Ufi trustees and team are immensely proud of this achievement.

by Stephen Hinde, Community Manager for Ufi VocTech Trust

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