Innovation foundation Nesta and the Department for Education (DfE) have launched the £5.75m CareerTech Challenge, calling for new innovations to equip adults across England with the tools and skills to find future employment.
The challenge hopes to find and work with innovators, entrepreneurs and technologists with products and services that can equip people for future jobs.
Formerly known as the Adult Learning Technology Innovation Fund, the challenge seeks to find solutions to help people working in England aged 24 to 65, without a degree and earning less than £35,000 per year.
A prize will be offered for digital solutions that use labour market information to make high-quality, future-focused information, advice and guidance more accessible.
Twenty finalists will receive £50,000 each as well as 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.
A separate fund will source innovative tech solutions which support people to build motivation to learn and develop new skills online.
Nesta will provide grants of between £100,000 to £250,000 for successful applicants, alongside tailored support to help refine and test their tech.
“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,” said Vicki Sellick, Nesta’s executive director of programmes.
“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 launches 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.
It is being developed and rolled out in stages, with a series of products being built and tested in parallel, and 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.”