**Apologies for cross-posting**
UFI REACHES OUT TO NEW LEARNERS THROUGH PARTNERSHIPS
An invited audience of around 70 people working in government,
education, libraries and the ICT industry attended a LASER briefing on
the University for Industry given by Dr Brian Sutton, Director of ICT,
UfI Ltd, and David Kay, Strategic Director of Fretwell-Downing
Informatics Ltd, at the Library Association HQ in London on 30th
September 1999. The audience included many senior information
professionals keen to find out what progress has been made since the
proposed new University for Industry lifelong learning initiative was
turned into UfI Ltd in April 1999. They heard Dr Sutton explain that
the 140 strong company aims to enhance employability and
competitiveness; promote demand for lifelong learning; broker learning
opportunities; reach both individual learners and small businesses; and
foster use of information and communications technologies (ICT).
Dr Sutton explained how Ufi will drive up demand for learning through
large-scale national advertising and promotional campaigns, the
Learning Direct call centre and partnerships with existing providers.
The UfI is working with educational publishers and providers to supply
high-quality learning materials which will be delivered and supported
through an national network of learning centres. The Ufi is planning
for 1000 centres by autumn 2000. Wherever possible Ufi will rely on
endorsing or enhancing existing learning materials and products, but it
will also commission new materials where it finds gaps in what is
Ufi learning centres will typically be in easy-access, non-traditional
locations. They will be run by 'Ufi hubs' - consortia made up of local
learning organisations and providers. Libraries have featured very
strongly in almost all the 120 geographically-based Consortia that have
so far bid to be hubs and run centres. Ufi has also received bids from
70 organisations and consortia representing business sectors and 11
from large companies. In total, well over 2000 potential partners are
involved in bids to the Ufi to run local learning centres. These
include almost all further education colleges and 60 higher education
Ufi learning centres will range from large 'flagship' centres, through
smaller centres to access points that could be a single PC in a
community hall with local support.
Around 70 development centres will be up and running from November this
year to test and pilot services. The hubs themselves will set the
local agenda, promoting centres and facilities according to the needs
of the local market and the local strategy for Lifelong Learning.
Learning materials and opportunities will cover both generic and basic
skills and the needs of the vertical business sectors which are Ufi
priorities - Retail and Distribution, Environmental Services, SMEs,
Multimedia and the Automotive industry. Ufi has already announced a
working list of 100 initial titles which will offer in total around
1000 'bit-sized' chunks of learning.
David Kay outlined the technical infrastructure that is being provided
by Fretwell-Downing following their successful tender for the work as
part of a Logica lead consortium. Much of the infrastructure being
specified by Ufi benefits from collaborative research and development
projects undertaken with library partners throughout Europe. Ufi will
be fully operational by autumn 2000.
A full report will be made available electronically on LASER's website
at http://www.viscount.org.uk/laser/ and published in LASERLink,
LASER's news and staff development journal.
Notes for Editors
1. LASER is the preferred name for London and South Eastern Library
Region, the Development and networking agency. Building on a history of
regional and inter-regional resource sharing activity since 1926, LASER
is now developing new approaches to cultural services development and
promoting access to learning resources, based on a wide range of
partnerships. Frances Hendrix, Director of LASER is a member of the
Board of UfI Ltd.
2. Further information may be obtained from Robin Yeates, Assistant
Director, Research and Development, LASER by email to
[log in to unmask] or telephone +44(020) 7702 2020.
Ufi editor's notes
Ufi is taking forward the Government's concept of the University for
Industry. It aims to provide information and advice to 2.5 million
people a year by 2002, and create demand for up to one million courses
and learning packages a year by 2004 - to be met by the Ufi network and
existing learning providers. An independent body, Ufi will operate in
England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and establish strong working
relationships with the Ufi in Scotland. By stimulating lifelong
learning, Ufi aims to put people in a better position to get jobs,
improve their career prospects and boost business competitiveness.
Ufi has been set up as a limited company, Ufi Ltd, which has applied
for charitable status. The Chairman, Lord Dearing; Vice Chairman, Sir
Anthony Greener, and board directors, have been appointed by the
Secretary of State for Education. The Chief Executive, Dr Anne Wright
and executive directors are responsible for the operations of the Ufi,
developing its plans and implementing them. Ufi will be independent of
government, although the Government will be Ufi's major stakeholder.
The DfEE is committed to support Ufi during its development phases,
and the first year will see funds of ?44 million from the DfEE.
Ufi will be in full national operation by Autumn 2000. In the meantime
many of its services will be introduced gradually. In April 1999 Ufi
took over responsibility for the Government's Learning Direct helpline.
This national learning information helpline was launched on 25
February 1998 and has been a resounding success. The freephone number
is 0800 100 900.
Ufi will develop a network of up to 1000 Learning Centres which will be
operated by local learning providers. The first pilots will be in
operation at the end of this year.
Ufi will cater for a very wide range of learners, from basic skills to
post-graduate level and from general management for SMEs to specific
technical skills and knowledge for designated priority areas.
Ufi's development plan is available on the Internet at
http://www.ufiltd.co.uk/ufi. Printed copies can be ordered from: Ufi,
PO box 380, Nottingham, NG7 3JS; telephone 0141 300 4924.
70 Wapping Lane
London E1 9RL
Tel: 0207 702 2020
Fax: 0207 702 2019
e-mail: [log in to unmask]