There is a broad consensus across the political spectrum that we need to radically improve the quantity and quality of technical and vocational education to address the skills shortages that are holding the UK economy back. However, in common with many other sectors, the further education and skills sector is facing a growing crisis in recruiting and retaining appropriately qualified staff.
It is widely acknowledged that the best people to deliver the skills training and education urgently needed are “dual professionals”, staff who can combine up-to-date experience and expertise in industry with the ability to teach young and adult students to a high standard. This report reviews progress so far in recruiting and supporting dual professionals, particularly in the FE college sector, and identifies the key barriers that are being faced. It then explores what new policies and strategies are required to attract and retain more of these professionals into the FE and skills workforce.
The DfE should recognise the importance of the FE and skills sector in the continued recruitment of industry professionals and actively support the sector in attracting and retaining dual professional teaching staff as a key element of its long-term strategy for workforce development.
As soon as possible, funding for colleges delivering technical courses in skills shortage sectors should be increased to a sufficient level to enable expert teaching staff to be paid at rates comparable to those in the private sector.
The DfE should move away from piecemeal initiatives towards a more integrated strategy for increasing the volume of industry-expert teachers.
Initial teacher training for FE lecturers should be reviewed and modified to better reflect the role of dual professional and support their transition into teaching.
The Government needs to speed up the evaluation of the effectiveness of new initiatives and publish the results to enable the most promising new practices to be identified and disseminated across the further education sector.
The collection and reporting of FE workforce data by the DfE from now on needs to be detailed enough to facilitate analysis of the proportion and range of industry-expert teachers, in order to enable better planning for their recruitment and retention.
Future workforce development policies and strategies for delivery of Level 4 and 5 should apply across the post-18 sector, addressing the HE as well as the FE sector.
The DfE should build on the ideas being developed by the Chartered Institution for FE to mobilise direct employer support and resources to improve higher technical skills training and explore how such approaches could be scaled up to national level.
The Treasury should consider providing incentives, such as tax breaks for companies and individuals, to encourage the release of members of staff to deliver higher skills teaching.
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