A focus on leadership and management, English, maths and digital skills are needed to take the FE profession forward with confidence through the current set of reforms – this is the primary conclusion of the landmark analysis of the training needs for the Further Education (FE) and Training sector.

Published by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) today, the Training Needs Analysis report reflects the perspectives of over 400 institutions and more than 2,000 individual practitioners – including teachers, trainers, leaders and assessors.

It provides the most significant analysis of the development and training needs of the workforce across the sector ever done. Initiated by the ETF, this report has been supported by all the key sector membership bodies and trade unions in the sector, and the Department for Education itself.

The purpose of the report is to provide intelligence that can support policy-makers and the sector in making informed investment decisions to support the workforce, to meet the challenges and opportunities that the technical education reforms, including T levels, will bring over the next three years.

The key conclusion (see Appendix 1 for the ten most significant findings) was that while providers and those working in the sector felt their recent training and development activities met most or all of their development needs, there were key areas that required further investment and focus.

They felt, if more budget and time permitted, there is scope for additional training to take advantage of the reforms, with a particular focus on leadership and management, maths and English, alongside the use of digital and other new technologies for teaching and learning.

David Russell, Chief Executive of the Education and Training Foundation, said:

“We are entering one of the most critical phases in this country’s history of further education and training. The opportunities the reforms bring, alongside the renewed focus on technical education, means we have to ensure we have the high-quality workforce to make them a real success.

“This landmark report, supported from all corners of the sector, places teachers, trainers, leaders and assessors at the very heart of these reforms. They have set out clearly what training support they need to play their part. It is now up to sector leaders at an institutional, regional and national level to get behind them and respond. We have no time to lose.”

The research, which took place in Autumn 2017, was commissioned, conducted and part-funded by the ETF – the sector’s workforce development body and home of comprehensive, independent and impartial workforce data research.

The ETF surveyed 2,366 individual respondents and 481 learning providers, and undertook 50 in-depth discussions with senior representatives of FE sector organisations.

The ETF commissioned BMG Research to undertake the research.

The Training Needs Analysis report forms part of the ETF’s Spring series of independent, impartial and comprehensive research, which started with the SIR Workforce Data report, and the Initial Teacher Education report earlier this month.

Appendix 1: Training Needs Analysis - ten most significant findings

The current picture

  1. The vast majority of providers felt that the training and development they received over the past year had met all (22%) or most (69%) of the significant needs of the organisation (Figure 29). However, a significant minority (23%) of individual respondents did not receive all of the training and development they wanted or needed, with the highest numbers (28%) of these being in colleges (Figure 32). Overall, 59% had said they received all of the training they needed.
  1. Individuals reported spending significant time on CPD over the past year, although this varied by job role and type of provider. On average, staff reported spending 44 hours on CPD over the past year, which varied from 73 hours reported by governors and trustees to 22 hours spent by learning support staff (Table 6). Lecturers/teachers/tutors spent an average of 41 hours on CPD over the past year. In general, staff at ITPs reported higher number of hours spent training (57 hours) while in local authorities the figure was 37 hours (Tables 7 and 8).
  1. The amount spent on external training per member of staff by institutions in the last academic year varied considerably, with ITPs spending the most per member of staff (£761 - £889) and colleges, the least (£172). However, because of their internal training resources colleges may not need to spend as much on external training supply. In addition, the ETF, for example, provides a range of free or subsidised training, so the time spent on training may be a more useful indicator. 48% of individuals revealed their training costs from external providers were entirely funded by their employer, whilst 8% self-funded and 30% said their training involved no cost (Figure 23).
  1. There was demand for future training which leads to a qualification or accreditation. A third of individuals would like to gain a qualification (22%) or accreditation (11%) through training related to their role (Figure 36). Training and development that enhances teaching and learning (12%) was considered most valuable (Figure 35).
  1. The key drivers of training identified by institutions differ markedly across the sector (Figure 44). National policy changes, especially apprenticeship reform, are a significant concern to ITPs (78% of those who considered national policy changes a key driver) (Table 22). The reforms of technical education (including the introduction of T levels is considered the biggest issue (38%) amongst those colleges who felt training would be driven by national policy, closely followed by apprenticeship reform (31%) (Table 22). For colleges and third sector providers, the needs of the organisation itself will be the key driver of training needs (36% and 47% respectively) (Figure 44), in particular, the organisation’s desire to maximise the efficiency, performance and professionalism of its workforce (71% and 59% of this group respectively – Table 24).

The future picture

  1. Around seven in ten individuals working in the FE sector believe they would benefit from training and development over the next year, with institutions providing a similar picture (Figure 50). Amongst staff groups identified for more training by institutions, the majority identified lecturers/teachers/tutors (85%), senior management team (79%) and middle/junior managers (78%) (Figure 49). 80% of prime ITPs cited that specialist assessors/verifiers/trainers of instructors would need training in the next year (Table 26) whilst for lecturers/teachers/tutors the figures ranged from 89% for colleges, 84% for ITP prime contractors and 79% for those in local authorities.
  1. Teaching and pedagogy were the key priority for training for individual respondents, (44%) (Figure 55). Obtaining QTLS status was a top priority for 9% overall, most notably for lecturers (13%), assessors (16%) and learning support staff (13%) (Table 31). Governance, leadership and management skills were the top priority across the board, reflecting 20% of all respondents (Figure 56). These priorities may be affected by the composition of the sample (which in itself is reflective of the sector), as unsurprisingly senior managers believe that in future there needs to be more leadership and management training (71%) and, lecturers/teachers/trainers/tutors believe that there is a need for more training in teaching and pedagogical skills (74%) (Table 28).
  1. The main barriers individuals felt would prevent them from undertaking training and development in the next year were being too busy at work (38%), their employer being unable to supply or fund it (33%), and a reluctance to fund it themselves/can’t afford it (31%) (Table 37).
  1. Institutions felt a wide variety of future training would be required, but particularly around subject/sector knowledge (78%) and governance, leadership and management skills (75%) (Figure 52). The subject areas that providers have identified as requiring further training and development apart from general subject knowledge (38%) were health/public services/care (27%), engineering/manufacturing (22%) and English (22%). The figure for maths was 21% (Figure 53). In terms of leadership and management, the key areas were general organisational management (76%) and team leadership (70%) (Figure 54).
  2. The organisations from which institutions would most welcome support on training and development were the Education and Training Foundation (66%), the Department for Education (66%), followed by the sector’s membership bodies AELP, AoC and Holex (Table 36).

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