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Fill the skills gap with teaching role

A new campaign is urging professionals to take a part-time job in further education, writes Jane Hamilton

Dominic Whelan turned the skills he learnt as an RAF engineer to teaching students at Sandwell College
Dominic Whelan turned the skills he learnt as an RAF engineer to teaching students at Sandwell College
The Times

Improving the nation’s skills is vital if the UK is to remain globally competitive. Now a new campaign is urging professionals to take up a part-time teaching role in further education (FE) alongside their current job.

The “Teach in FE” drive aims to tackle the shortages that have left one in 20 further education teaching roles vacant, alongside 2.6 per cent of college management jobs.

Office for National Statistics figures reveal 15 per cent of firms are struggling to recruit employees with the right skills and it is estimated that 20 per cent of the workforce will be significantly lacking skills by 2030.

Without action, it is thought that the cost to the economy could be as high as £120 billion over the next decade, so further education colleges — including sixth forms, general further education colleges and university technical colleges — play a crucial role in plugging the national skills gap.

They provide education for people aged 16 or over who are not studying for a degree, ranging from work-related courses and apprenticeships in subjects such as construction, business and healthcare to classroom subjects such as English, maths and science.


Many colleges also offer basic skills support including reading, writing and IT to people of all ages, including refugees and older workers keen to retrain, while some support prisoners hoping to secure employment on their release.

However, the shortage of teachers threatens the provision of high quality teaching and more than half of college principals admit to finding recruitment “difficult”.

The new campaign is designed to appeal to working professionals who want to pass on their extensive knowledge to the next generation or to supplement their income during the cost of living crisis.

Would-be teachers wanting to embark on a “portfolio career” will be able teach their trade, skill or subject in a wide range of FE settings without the need for a specific qualification.

The Department for Education said there was a particular demand for FE teachers in health and social care, construction, engineering and manufacturing, legal, finance, accounting, digital and IT.

A DfE spokesman said: “Practical experience gained from industry is highly sought after, and teaching and other academic qualifications are not always a pre-requisite for employment as FE teachers can start earning straightaway and do funded training on-the-job.

“There are full-time, part-time and flexible contracts available, allowing FE teachers to balance their hours alongside other professional or personal responsibilities.”

There are about 205,000 people in the further education workforce, including 81,400 teaching staff. More than half of tutors teach a vocational subject as their main subject and 35.7 per cent of teachers work part time.


Because further education providers are independent, salaries and benefits vary depending on the provider, course or local area, but typical packages range from £24,000 to £40,000.

Often teaching takes place outside a traditional classroom set-up, with students learning in workshops or on-site locations that replicate real working environments.

Robert Halfon, minister for skills, apprenticeships and higher education, said: “With more and more high-quality technical training offers being rolled out, including apprenticeships, T Levels and Skills Bootcamps, there has never been a better time to consider becoming a further education teacher.

“We need more people with industry expertise to share their knowledge and skills and extend the ladder of opportunity to people from all walks of life.

“That’s why we’ve launched our Teach in Further Education recruitment campaign, to empower people to use the skills they’ve gained in their careers to inspire others. It’s also a rewarding and flexible way to train up the next generation of workers while expanding your own skill set.”

The DfE spokesman added: “Wherever and whatever you teach, your skills and experience could make a real difference to people’s lives.”

Pupils fly high with ex-RAF engineer

Dominic Whelan had a successful career as a RAF engineer before setting up a small components workshop (Jane Hamilton writes). After training recruits, he realised he could share his knowledge more widely by teaching.


Whelan, 48, is now an automotive teacher at Sandwell College, West Midlands and won the silver FE lecturer of the year at the Pearson National Teaching Awards.

Whelan, from Birmingham, said: “When I was working towards my engineering qualifications ... my own FE teacher kept me engaged and interested in pursuing a career in the sector. They inspired me and I thought I could do the same for the learners of today by sharing my skills to help prepare a pipeline of talent now that I’ve made it in the engineering industry. I’m good at fixing planes, but found I was even better at sharing that knowledge with other people.”

How to get into further education teaching

The careers coach Jenny Garrett has 20 years’ experience helping professionals to swap jobs. Here is her advice on moving into further education (FE) teaching.

•Identify how your skills apply to FE roles: transferable skills such as communication, organisation, problem-solving and leadership can be valuable for teaching.

•Identify your industry expertise: FE recruiters value real-world experience. If you are a software engineer, you could teach courses in coding, software design, or web development. A builder could teach construction courses.

•Explore the requirements. You don’t always need teaching qualifications or a degree to start teaching in FE; often you can complete training on the job.

•Increase your chances of obtaining information on job openings and access a mentor by attending networking events. Join professional organisations and online groups and contact local colleges to speak to the FE teachers there and get a feel for the role.


•Tailor your CV, cover letter and all application materials to highlight transferable skills and experiences in line with the role. Demonstrate an ability to engage with and inspire students using examples of how you’ve shared your skills or trained others at work.

•Research common interview questions and practise your responses. Highlight your industry skills and your passion for imparting knowledge.

Working week

A third of potential entrepreneurs don’t develop their business idea in case it fails
A third of potential entrepreneurs don’t develop their business idea in case it fails

Fear of business failure

Two thirds of adults have a business idea but a third hold back due to fear of failure, research by Santander X UK Awards reveals. The scheme offers start-ups up to £25,000. Mike Regnier, chief executive, said: “Many want to embark on an entrepreneurship journey but are intimidated.” See santanderx.com

Unpaid overtime

Half of UK employees regularly work unpaid overtime for free, averaging three hours a week or 18 extra days a year. Now Ciphr, the human resources software provider, has launched an online tool to calculate the value of unpaid overtime. For more details, visit ciphr.com/unpaid-overtime-calculator/

Hunt for four-day week

The number of people looking for jobs with a four-day week has leapt by 38 per cent in a year, according to the job platform Flexa Careers. Molly Johnson-Jones, chief executive, said: “Increased awareness of different kinds of flexibility means increased opportunities for businesses to find new ways of working.”

Wasted meetings

Office workers waste 213 hours a year, equivalent to 27 days, in meetings that could have been covered in an email. A report from Brother UK suggests staff suffer an average of three unnecessary meetings a week. Greig Millar, chief revenue officer, said: “The commercial impact on businesses can be significant.”

Appointment of the week

Carbon capture and storage is already in use in the US
Carbon capture and storage is already in use in the US

Have a positive impact on the planet with a net-zero role as non-executive director at Low Carbon Contracts Company Ltd. The company is seeking a London-area non-executive director to drive a progressive long-term strategy and support the board.

The right candidate will have net zero and power sector experience including carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) and hydrogen, plus knowledge of large systems and data technology.

The role entails 20 days per annum with six to eight board meetings per year. The renumeration is £25,000 per annum.

For further information visit appointments.thetimes.co.uk/

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