With the SET for Teaching Success programme, everyone’s a winner – the individuals who are helped to forge new careers in technical teaching are supported into new employment, the provider institutions they work in secure new expert staff in hard-to-recruit-for subjects, and the students they teach are inspired by people with industry experience and expertise.
Even the industries these individuals cease working in – at least on a full-time basis – win, because those who teach are of course creating the next generation of the workforce. Indeed, the desire of individuals to give something back to the industry in which they spent some of their careers by preparing its next generation is an often-cited reason for making the switch into a teaching-focused role. And, unsurprisingly, when asked what they find satisfying about their roles, the passing on of knowledge is frequently identified by SET for Teaching Success participants. Individuals win, communities win, and the wider economy wins.
But giving up a technical job in industry, where your skills are highly valued is, nonetheless, a big decision. Any career change involves uncertainty, and the fact that you’ll be going on to teach skills and impart experience accrued over often-lengthy careers, makes it no less significant.
Supporting people to make that switch, opening their eyes to the incredible things our sector does that they can be a part of, and ensuring that they are backed to do so, is all-important. As we all know, teaching in FE may not necessarily be at the front of everyone’s mind, but when exposed to its rewards, many people realise that they have unearthed a gem of a career.
That’s clearly the case when you read the stories of many of the individuals who have made the switch with the support of the ETF’s SET for Teaching Success recruitment programme. It is for engineer Akeem Ahmed, who reports really enjoying seeing the positive impact his teaching has made on young people’s skills and how they take that knowledge forward. It is for electrician Jack Sutcliffe, who gains great satisfaction from seeing students develop their technical skills and theoretical knowledge and enjoys the feeling of students passing an exam and knowing that he has helped them achieve that. And it is for dental nurse Gemma O’Brien, who enjoys seeing the personal and intellectual growth she and her colleagues promote.
I could go on and on, with example after example, but the stories that are most interesting aren’t the ones that have already been written, or even the ones being written now; they’re the ones that are yet to be begun. And that’s because they’re the ones of the individuals who are out there in industry now, who are yet to experience that moment when they realise that they want a change, that the change they want is FE, and that there’s a programme out there that can help them make the transition. You may even know some of them; they might be part of your social circle or people you know as industry contacts or ex-colleagues.
The challenge is getting them to consider FE and technical teaching as their new role, and the time to step up to that challenge is now, because on 1 April the next application period for SET for Teaching Success opens. If you know someone who could excel as a technical teacher in FE, simply point them at the programme’s web page and we’ll do our best to do the rest.
We know that those who join FE find it satisfying, and we know that they go on to achieve great things in the sector – the example of recent Technical Teaching Fellowship awardee and SET for Teaching Success graduate Chris Fairclough illustrates that. Our role is simply to help them take the first step into the sector, so that they can help a new generation of young talent and adult learners to take their first into the industries of their choosing, where there are recognised skills shortages.
Cerian Ayres, National Head of Technical Education, Education and Training Foundation