From education to employment

Why does FE workforce data matter?

Charlynne Pullen, Head of Data and Evaluation, the Education and Training Foundation (ETF)

Staff Individualised Records (SIR) data is collected by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) on an annual basis from all types of provider across the FE and training sector. Data is collected at individual staff contract level, and all learning providers funded through the ESFA are encouraged to submit data. But why? What happens to your staff data once submitted and why does it matter?

To help you, is the short answer, by enabling well-informed policies. Once submitted, your data is aggregated and analysed to show the changing structure and composition of the FE and training workforce, then published as an annual report.

This report informs both government and sector body policies aimed at tackling recruitment issues or skills shortages, for example. It provides the most comprehensive and independent source of data on the latest trends in demographics, staffing numbers and pay across all provider types in the FE and Training sector.

In addition, SIR data is used to produce sector benchmarks for providers. If you submit data on the SIR Data Insights service, you gain access to these detailed benchmark comparisons with ‘like me’ providers – visually presented in your own management dashboards. The service has been designed to give you data analytics for your strategic decision making.

You can see the kind of information on trends in demographics, staffing numbers and pay that the SIR data provides in the latest annual report for 2016/17. Data was gathered from 198 providers (an increase from 175 providers in 2015/16) who provided returns on 72,104 staff contracts.

As well as FE, sixth form and specialist colleges, the dataset comprises local authorities, independent training providers and the third sector. For the first time, the annual workforce data report captures the gender pay gap across all staff and providers, and includes a specific analysis of learning support staff, both of which are vital to understanding, improving and championing the sector’s teaching and training profession.

Key findings from this year’s annual workforce data report include:

  • 79% of learning support staff work part-time compared to 49% of all staff. However, the percentage of learning support staff working full-time has increased from 16.6% to 20.5%.
  • The gender pay gap across all staff and providers is in favour of men by 9.7%. As this is an aggregate gap, it does not take into account the job roles and qualifications of individual members of staff. For example, the SIR report in 2014-15 found that most of the difference in pay between genders – particularly for teaching staff – was related to differences in subjects taught, reflecting wider society.
  • Median pay across all staff and providers has increased slightly from £27,500 to £28,500 over the past five years. For colleges, the change in median pay has been similar – from £27,500 to £28,700.
  • Most occupations have seen a decline in staff numbers during 2016-17. Only apprentice and learner-facing technical staff numbers have risen (15% and 1% respectively). Senior managers have seen the largest decline (10%).

The full report is available on the SIR Data Insights website, where you can also find out more about the SIR service and what it provides.

This year’s SIR submission is due from 1 August, with opportunity to start trial submissions from 1 July:

Visit the SIR website to start preparing your 2017/18 staff data for submission.

DfE will be issuing a Call for Evidence shortly, asking the sector how we can improve workforce data. More providers submitting more SIR data will make a substantial difference – please join with your colleagues and submit 2017/18 workforce data to provide an even better evidence base and set of benchmarks.

Charlynne Pullen, Head of Data and Evaluation, the Education and Training Foundation (ETF)

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