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£5.75m programme to invest in equipping adults for jobs of the future

£5.75m programme to invest in equipping adults for jobs of the future

Nesta and the Department for Education (DfE) have launched the CareerTech Challenge: a £5.75 million programme to find products and services that will equip adults across England with the necessary tools and skills to find employment in the future.

According to Nesta, one fifth of UK workers are currently in occupations that will be affected by automation over the next 10 to 15 years. The CareerTech Challenge, formerly the Adult Learning Technology Innovation Fund, is seeking solutions to help people working in England aged 24 to 65, without a degree and earning less than £35,000 per year.

It consists of two parts:

  • The CareerTech Challenge Prize, to find digital solutions that use labour market information to make high-quality, future-focused information, advice and guidance more accessible. 20 finalists will receive £50,000 each as well as expert support to help them further develop their solutions. In March 2021, the winner will be awarded £120,000 with one runner-up receiving £80,000.
  • The CareerTech Challenge Fund to source innovative tech solutions which support people to build motivation to learn and develop new skills online. Existing online learning generally has low completion rates, so Nesta is calling for tech solutions which successfully engage people and build their employability skills and confidence for transitioning into new job roles. Nesta will provide grants of between £100,000 to £250,000 for successful applicants, alongside tailored support to help refine and test their tech.

Both are now open, and applications for the Fund close on 9 December 2019 with entries for the Prize closing on 29 January 2020.

Vicki Sellick, Nesta’s Executive Director of Programmes, said:

“As the world of work transforms, it is crucial that people feel confident in understanding what jobs will be available in the future in their local area and how to learn the skills to secure them.

“Technology offers a variety of exciting ways to equip people with the knowledge and tools to plan for secure and rewarding careers and improve working lives for people across England.”

The CareerTech Challenge will support the development of the government’s National Retraining Scheme, and launch on the same day that the DfE announces the roll-out of the first part of the scheme, Get Help to Retrain, to three further areas. The Scheme will help prepare adults for the future changes to the economy, including those brought about by automation, and help them retrain into better jobs. The National Retraining Scheme is being developed and rolled out in stages, with a series of products being built and tested in parallel. The complete National Retraining Scheme service will be available for eligible adults in 2022.

Education Minister, Michelle Donelan, added:

“The CareerTech Challenge is a fantastic opportunity for innovators looking to put their ideas into action on a national scale.

“Everyone deserves access to high-quality teaching and, thanks to new technologies such as automation and Artificial Intelligence, there is potential to drastically improve the quality of online learning for adult students.

“Investing in cutting edge technologies demonstrates our ongoing commitment to adult education and we hope it will encourage more adults to retrain and upskill in future.”


Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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