45646
New support workshop announced: London 09/12  Find out more

At our Alumni event in Manchester we caught up with Aaron Saxton, Director of Education at UKFast, to talk about the organisation’s Community and Education Trust which has committed £5 million to provide more opportunities to young people in the community.

It’s clear that UKFast is committed to delivering impact – you achieved a Princess Royal Training Award by evidencing just that – what impact do you want this £5m commitment to make?

As a team, we want to continue to work to inspire those most in need of a little support to be the best they can be. That’s one of the fundamental objectives of the Community and Education Trust – to contribute to the education and development of young people and the wider community.

The impact we’d love to see is a reduction of the poverty gap through the development of digital skills. To achieve that, we focus on understanding young people and communities who face scenarios of abuse, neglect and different forms of hardship.

UKFast's Aaron Saxton with school children using Rasberry Pi's

As with many cities today, wealth and poverty sit side by side – discovering that children in your local school couldn’t afford even 20p must have been a real shock – how did it make you feel?

I don’t believe that money brings happiness or is the solution to all of the world’s problems. I’m a passionate believer that giving time and resources is one of the most powerful things we can do to help people and communities be better. We want to give people the skills, tools and access to better opportunities.

You are working to make a real difference to those local children – is there anything that can be done for their parents?

We’re moving in that direction and we are already working with schools, parents and teachers. We want to create a sustainable model where all stakeholders are inspired to be better and become role models for future generations, especially in the digital space.

We’re looking to make a systemic change in society, so we’re doing a lot with clients and the general public through events such as open tech community workshops for budding entrepreneurs.

HRH The Princess Royal meeting UKFast directors

Last month you received a royal visit. Has the association with The Princess Royal made a difference to UKFast and to your impact on the community?

100%. It’s put us in the spotlight, which is nice! People always recognise the great work that we do with our apprentices and educational partners. The Awards have helped us as a team to articulate how and why we’re looking to make a difference on a much larger scale. We’ve been able to talk about this wider impact in the press, internally, throughout the community and our network of schools.

So the Awards enhanced engagement with the work of the Trust internally and externally?

Without a doubt. The Awards enhanced the profile of the Community and Education Trust. The Trust has always existed in the background, as a tool and platform to create a positive impact and deliver our community and education work.

The Princess Royal Training Awards helped us enhance and strengthen our purpose within the educational space, and were the reason for freeing up additional planning and investment to help us have an even greater and wider impact.

School children at UKFast using computers

When you stand back and look at the impact you have had on your business and the local community, what do you consider is your proudest achievement?

Apart from the Princess Royal Training Awards?! It has to be the four apprentices who joined UKFast with me six years ago. I used to be a teacher and they followed me across when I made a career move to UKFast. They’re all still here, at the top of their game and running their own individual teams and departments, inspiring others to follow in their footsteps. I feel like a proud father to all four boys!


UKFast received a Princess Royal Training award for their Apprenticeship scheme in 2018. They hosted an alumni event in May 2019 and The Princess Royal visited their campus in Manchester to learn more about their award-winning initiatives firsthand.

Other news stories

Princess Royal Training Awards now open for entries

The Princess Royal Training Awards – designed to honour outstanding and innovative training and skills development programmes from UK employers – are now open for applications, until 29th March 2019. Created by the City & Guilds Group, which is celebrating its...

In the press: Gateshead College receives double Royal seal of approval

The top North East college has achieved double success in a prestigious national awards scheme that celebrates the positive business impact of outstanding skills development programmes. Gateshead College scooped two accolades in this year’s Princess Royal Training...

In the press: The Donkey Sanctuary receives royal recognition for employee training

The Donkey Sanctuary has been commended by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal for its inspirational commitment to the learning and development of its staff. This is the second time the charity has received royal recognition for its work. It was among 48...

In the press: Using training to respond to new challenges

If 2017 taught us anything, it’s that none of us knows what the future holds. We can make as many predictions as we like, but the reality is that life will always throw the unexpected at us. That’s true on a personal level, but it will also sound familiar to anyone...

In the press: Veolia Gains Royal Recognition For ‘Respect At Work’ Training

​Veolia has been recognised for outstanding commitment to workplace training by gaining a Princess Royal Training Award (PRTA) for its recent initiative: Respect at Work. The awards were presented by HRH Princess Anne, at a ceremony held at St James’s Palace in London...

In the press: AESSEAL boosts turnover to £181.3m after a year of national award success

Manufacturer AESSEAL boosted its turnover by £10m after posting an eight per cent rise in organic sales. During 2018 the business grew earnings by 15.7 per cent to £34.7m and saw its turnover rise to £181.3m. Group net assets rose to £122.8m, an increase of 18.6 per...

In conversation with Aaron Saxton about UKFast’s £5m commitment to their Community and Education Trust

At our Alumni event in Manchester we caught up with Aaron Saxton, Director of Education at UKFast, to talk about the organisation's Community and Education Trust which has committed £5 million to provide more opportunities to young people in the community. It’s clear...

City & Guilds Group chief exec visits East Coast FM

Chris Jones, chief executive of the City & Guilds Group and Sally Eley, Director of Corporate Relations and leader of the Princess Royal Training Awards team visited 2017 award recipients East Coast FM last week. They were invited to take part in their morning...

A royal seal of approval for businesses that put employee development first

On Thursday 2 November, we celebrated 40 organisations who were recognised after being commended for their commitment to training and skills excellence by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal at a ceremony at St James’s Palace in London. The Princess...

In the press: World-leading motorsport engineering company Xtrac wins Princess Royal Training Award for its apprenticeship programme

Thatcham-based transmission technology company Xtrac has received royal recognition for the “extremely high standard” of its apprenticeship scheme, which started more than 25 years ago, shortly after the business was founded in 1984. The firm, which now...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This