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UFI Roadshows


Ufi Roadshows
Richard Ingham

A number of roadshows were held in June to spread the word about the Ufi and to encourage people to get involved.

At the Leicester event, speakers included Lord Dearing, the Chairman of Ufi, Anne Wright, Chief Executive, and Bob Fryer, Director of Distributed Learning as well as Pauline Bailey, Deputy Director, Skills and Enterprise for the Government Office of the East Midlands. There were also presentations on client centred learning delivery by Jackie Hargis and Malcolm Hunt from Newark and Sherwood College and Greg Jones, Ufi project manager for BG Technology.

When I asked Lord Dearing what particular message he would like to get across to Individual Learning News readers, he said, 'The message would be: if you think you are above getting involved in Ufi, you are wrong. The only capital you have is what is in your brain, and that gets out of date. It needs renewal. We all should invest in ourselves and that makes us much more credible when we try to persuade others to become learners too.

'That's the first thing. The second is, why don't you play your part in making sure that everyone you know knows the Learning Direct number, 0800 100 900?'

Everyone Needed

His remarks illustrate the point that seemed to recur in many forms during the roadshow: Ufi recognise that if its vision of a learning society is to succeed, then everyone needs to play a part.

Dr Anne Wright said that the aim of Ufi was to

make learning a part of everyday life for everyone throughout their lives
make learning a part of every workplace
put learners first.
A survey conducted for Ufi showed that 6 out of 10 people thought improved skills and qualifications increased job prospects, that 1 in 4 said they would be more likely to take a Ufi course than go to college and that 6 out of 10 employers said they would encourage staff to use Ufi.

The targets that UFI is aiming at are that, by 2002, 2.5m people will be using Ufi information sources and, by 2004, 1 million learners will be attracted to use Ufi network and services.

A key part of the infrastructure for delivering these services will be the partnerships or Hubs, which will provide and manage local or sectoral Learning Centres. The Hubs will provide ready access for learners in high quality, state of the art learning centres, and high quality learner support for individuals and SMEs. They will also create learner networks and promote locally the Ufi brand and services.

Partnerships who want to form Hubs had to send in outline proposals by 16th July. The first centres will be identified in the autumn.

Lifelong Learning Partnerships

Pauline Bailey felt that if Ufi was to be as successful as everyone hoped, then it needed to engage with the national network of Lifelong Learning Partnerships. 'In the East Midlands, as in other regions, Lifelong Learning Partnerships are currently working hard to pull together their local Lifelong Learning Action Plans,' she said. 'These will be crucial strategic planning documents that will focus primarily on the attainment of the Lifelong Learning Targets, identifying gaps in provision, and considering innovative ways to increase participation in education.

'If we are to meet the challenging National Learning Targets,' she emphasised. 'then it is essential that we engage more and more people in learning. I think that Ufi is about helping us to meet that challenge.'

She went on to say, 'If we are to attract these new learners then it is important to pay attention to that first engagement in learning. We have to hook people to the idea of learning and then move them on. Personally, I would like learning centres to be more like leisure centres – approachable, open all hours, evenings and weekends, places where the family can go, almost like a learning theme park, exciting and fun and full of opportunity. Why do we still tend to see learning as boring?

'We also need to start where people are at. If it is in front of the television, start there; if it is down at the pub, well, start there; and if it is at the shops, that is a good place too. We must get to people through simple things and small, bitesize chunks of learning. I think we might need to be a little bit more subtle in our learning sales pitch. It is crucially important for people to be able to experience the success of learning in order to grab their interest and encourage the development of self-esteem. In that way, we build on success, because nothing succeeds quite like success.

'I've no doubt that Ufi will provide access to products and services that are responsive to people's needs, meeting quality and customer care standards to the highest level.'

To contact Ufi, phone General Enquiries on 0114 224 2999 or visit the Ufi web site at


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