As the new lockdown begins to bite. vocational education specialist Ufi has called for organisations to adopt a digital-first strategy for essential employment skills development – from apprentice training to emergency first-response skills, something they firmly believe is key to keeping the economy afloat.

Following the launch of its Covid response fund, VocTech Now, which has helped national organisations such as Barnardo’s develop the digital first training capabilities needed for vocational learning to continue throughout the pandemic, Ufi has partnered with four leading professional education bodies (Group Training Associations, HOLEX, Association of Employment and Learning Providers and Association of Colleges) to develop a post-Covid strategy to deliver a more flexible and accessible vocational skills industry.

Both within and beyond the VocTech Now fund, Ufi has facilitated vocational skills development throughout the pandemic which wouldn’t have otherwise been able to continue, for organisations including:

– Barnardo’s – to ensure that disadvantaged and vulnerable young people are able to continue developing vital employment skills throughout Covid, a Virtual Learning Environment is providing students with individually tailored training, supporting learning in sectors ranging from construction, to beauty and health and social care.

– Lives – the charity of community first responders behind 20,000 medical emergencies annually have been able to train over 350 first responders in skills from shock and haemorrhage control to post-resuscitation care via an online academy. The online learning platform also enabled the charity to deliver mass training to educate volunteers on new PPE guidelines, enabling the service to keep running throughout lockdown

– The CPC Link – the organisation behind mandatory health and safety training for bus, coach and lorry drivers has created an app which allows trainees to achieve certification remotely. This has supported both those already in the transport sector, and those impacted by furlough or redundancy in need of reskilling.

– National Numeracy – the charity aiming to raise low levels of numeracy amongst adults and children has been supported by Ufi since before the pandemic to provide a digital learning experience that helps measure and improve the confidence of 20,000 adults in maths

– Isle of Wight College – the introduction of Microsoft Teams and related applications has, with support from Ufi, enabled apprentices to maintain motivation and engagement during pandemic restrictions and enhanced both employer-engagement and cross-curricula collaboration whilst integrating Assessors further within the learning support team.

The partnership, which has already reached almost one thousand further education practitioners, aims to catalyse change within further education – providing practical resources to help organisations deliver blended learning and improve learner outcomes at scale.

Graham Lowery, Training Supervisor, Barnardo’s says: “Ufi’s support has been crucial for young learners at this time, especially for those in challenging home environments. For us, this was about so much more than just training; virtual resources have allowed our learners to not just increase their employment prospects, but do so in a way that is tailored to their specific educational and personal needs.”

Rebecca Garrod-Waters, CEO, Ufi, says “As the government commits to more funding for vocational training, businesses should be considering whether their current learning environments are inclusive, accessible and able to produce positive results. Adopting a digital first approach enables vocational training to meet all these needs and will be crucial for future proofing the sector, both in the short term and beyond Covid.”


By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.