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FE training changes lives for the better – FE News

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Dr Vicky Smith, Director of Education, Education and Training Foundation

There is no doubt that we are in a time of great economic challenges. The Covid-19 pandemic and more recently Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are having a significant impact on our economy.

Not only that, we also face a host of health, demographic, environmental, technological and social challenges that will require careful policy development and implementation to address directly.

Level up

The government’s Better Recovery and Level Up programs have set out a number of policy proposals to address some of these critical issues.

The Upskilling UK white paper shows that almost all jobs will be changed by 2030, in some cases radically, with up to 90% of the workforce needing reskilling. A thriving IP sector is critical to the UK’s ability to address these and wider systemic challenges.

Notably, in the 2021 ETF/YouGov survey, the public identified further education and training as one of the top three priorities for upskilling.

Published in January 2021, the FE White Paper: Skills for Work for Lifelong Learning and Growth puts the Further Education and Training sector back at the fore in contributing to the challenges ahead.

However, recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers remains a critical challenge, especially attracting new candidates to technical and vocational teaching positions. Indeed, a recent report by the Association of Colleges highlighted the worst staffing crisis in England’s colleges for two decades.

Increasing the recruitment of the sector

The Department for Education’s recruitment drive, launched earlier this year to increase the number of teachers in FE and Training, is a welcome development.

There are other important initiatives such as the Taking Teaching Further ETF, which has just launched its fifth round and aims to attract high-quality teaching professionals from industry. Our Talent to Teach program aims to offer FE teaching to undergraduate and graduate students.

And through the Society for Education and Training, we support 22,000 teaching professionals, including free membership for students taking those important first steps in their teaching careers.

New ETF report

Certainly, we can and must do more to improve recruitment and retention. As a result, the ETF commissioned a report by independent researchers from the ICF. FE Teacher Recruitment and the FE Landscape paints a picture of the current state and provides some guidance on how we can create a workforce that meets the needs of future learners.

As well as examining data and trends on the sector’s job boards, the report looks at future recruitment demand in FE and estimates that a further 632,000 jobs will need to be filled over the decade due to factors such as retirements and job mobility.

The report shows that almost half of the advertised positions in PE (45%) are part-time, and 30% are temporary. This suggests that colleges and training organizations are already taking an increasingly pragmatic and flexible approach to this retention and recruitment challenge.

There was a particular demand for maths, English, SEN and science teachers compared to their workforce. Other fields with a large number of hard-to-fill vacancies include construction, engineering, health care and social security.

The report calls for a more strategic approach to recruitment by building the sector’s capacity, scaling up successful initiatives and better supporting teachers and trainers throughout their careers.

Looking ahead

The challenge is to build a workforce of experienced, qualified and talented mentors to inspire the next generation of industry experts. Investment in FE and training supports social mobility, economic development and boosts innovation and productivity.

In the coming months, the ETF will engage in engagement to understand how we can best support the sector in meeting the challenges ahead.

To read the report, visit the Education and Training Foundation website – https://www.et-foundation.co.uk/resources/research/fe-teacher-recruitment-and-the-landscape-of-fe/

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