With thousands of people losing their jobs each week as a result of the worst economic downturn in decades, I am encouraged by the many stories I hear about how teachers and trainers throughout the further education and skills sector are making a positive difference to people's lives.

Waltham Forest College, for example, has been training unemployed people for jobs at New Spitalfields Market, the famous fruit, vegetable and flower market in East London. Former construction worker and father of two, Austin Wilson, 30, lost his job as a banksman with a building company in November and is one of the first cohort benefiting from a carefully designed and taught 10-week pre-employment programme.

Teachers cover generic skills such as team working, communication, literacy and numeracy, as well as sector-specific training, including stock rotation, import regulations and forklift operating. At the end of it, participants are guaranteed six months' employment.

The college works closely with local employers and the local authority's economic regeneration team, and has a team of tutors dedicated to supporting long-term and short-term unemployed people into jobs. These tutors have shown fantastic professional commitment and a willingness to go the extra mile, delivering courses on site and outside normal hours.

Stoke on Trent College teachers have a long history of supporting people who have lost their jobs in the once-booming ceramic industry, which now employs fewer than 10,000 people, about a quarter of the number employed 20 years ago. When Waterford Wedgwood went into administration in January, putting 1,200 jobs at risk, the college’s training and consultancy services team and teachers set up a series of programmes to enable them to find new employment in the area.

Teachers and trainers at the college have been instrumental in providing jobseekers with the skills to take advantage of alternative employment opportunities with new and expanding industries in North Staffordshire – in health and social care, logistics, retail, and business and professional services. Teachers have helped former employees of Waterford Wedgwood and of Woolworths, after it went into administration at the end of 2008, to find jobs with New Look, the clothing retailer, which is opening a distribution centre and a large store in the area.

These are just two of the many stories I have heard about the sterling work being done by teachers and trainers across the further education and skills sector – in work-based learning, in adult and community learning, as well as in colleges.

Almost all unemployed people experience some negative effects from losing their jobs and being out of work, not least because they miss six main functions that employment performs in our society:

  • Providing income

  • Imposing a time structure on the working day

  • Involving regularly shared experiences and contacts with people outside the nuclear family

  • Linking individuals to goals and structures which transcend their own

  • Defining aspects of personal status and identity

  • Enforced activity

Not surprisingly, most unemployed people judge the value and effectiveness of education and training in terms of whether it leads to a job. Even if it does not immediately lead to earning income, however, education and training can help by providing a time structure for the working day; contacts with people outside the nuclear family or friendships; links to wider goals and structure; a new status and identity, and a stimulus to activity.

Teaching and training for individuals can also lead to other substitutes for employment, such as voluntary and community work. Teachers and trainers help people acquire new skills and learn to create their own livelihood through self-employment or setting up a business or social enterprise. They also help unemployed people to move out of the isolation that often accompanies the loss of one's job.

Unemployment affects different people in different ways; understanding this helps teachers and trainers develop effective teaching methods and design suitable courses.

IfL members, over 185,000 teachers and trainers across the further education and skills sector, are making a difference to the growing proportion of learners affected by the recession. Increasingly, people have lost their jobs or fear never getting a job or being made redundant. Many teachers and trainers have current experience of helping learners train and retrain in order to improve their employment prospects in a cold economic climate. IfL looked back to the recession in the mid-1980s for guidance for teachers and trainers, which is still relevant today and can help shape how we respond to the needs of learners who are unemployed.

Turning to learning offers real advantages to newly unemployed people. Further education and skills teachers and trainers have every reason to be very proud of the valuable contribution they are making to individuals, communities and the nation.

For further information, please visit the website at www.ifl.ac.uk

Toni Fazaeli is the chief executive of the Institute for Learning, the professional body for more than 185,000 teachers, trainers, tutors and student teachers across the further education and skills sector


You may also be interested in these articles:

The Ufi VocTech Challenge – what does it mean for FE? #VocTechFutures Episode 3

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page