From education to employment

New Year, New Opportunities?

Dr Paul Phillips CBE, Principal and Chief Executive of Weston College

I interviewed a candidate for a Lecturer in Health & Social Care this week. She had no teaching experience, a wealth of industrial experience but moreover a passion to engage students. The interview was a pleasurable experience on feedback from both the panel and the candidate.

She was the only candidate to get through to final interview but the sheer focus from her and her attention to detail was impressive. We were lucky – she accepted the post and clearly has the potential to be a major asset for the organisation.

If only this was the case for all our curriculum areas.

At present recruiting staff in the shortage areas of engineering, construction, health and digital technologies is a nightmare. Within these disciplines salaries for assessors and teachers have converged and still it is difficult for FE to compete in this highly competitive field. We have engaged in ‘growing our own’ but we often create the source of expertise only for it to be poached elsewhere.

We are starting to approach a ‘Perfect Storm’ in the apprenticeship area… The apprentices are out there, but the teaching expertise is becoming unaffordable. On top of this, funding allocations for non-Levy-paying employers have not responded to demand. It will be interesting to see how the matter will be resolved. My belief is that the money is out there but the distribution model is flawed. Hopefully we will receive information on how monies can be transferred in the near future, and the situation rectified.

At College-level, we are starting a new term in which a raft of initiatives/agendas are being thrown at us.

One minute it is English, maths and work experience, the next it is T Levels, and if I turn the page it is Institutions of Technology to name but a few…

We are certainly no strangers to management of change or indeed commercial ethos. The latter I have decided is actually illusionary – with all the people I have employed from industry and commerce, I have yet to meet staff who can better the ethos of the FE sector!

As I write this Justine Greening has moved on to new pastures and there are new faces on the block. Education is like the National Lottery but let’s hope FE is the winner this year.

Best wishes to everyone in the sector. 

Dr Paul Phillips CBE, Principal and Chief Executive of Weston College

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