Kathleen Henehan, Resolution Foundation

#Post16RevolutionaryReforms -  In the run-up to the current crisis, nearly one-in-five UK workers were in a sector that would be temporarily shut, a large proportion of whom were low-paid and had lower-level qualifications.

It’s unclear how many of these have come back to work (as of early August four-in-ten workers in hospitality and leisure remained furloughed).

The number that could lose their jobs permanently next month, when the furlough scheme draws to a close is even less clear still.

Participation Benefits

But no matter how, and when, job losses occur, it’s safe to say that policymakers will look adult education and training as a way to help unemployed adults find their way back into work.

There is some good news on this front: research recently published by the Resolution Foundation finds that even after controlling for several personal and work-related factors, adult education and training can make a substantive difference to the odds of a person who has moved out of work being able to move back into it within two years (see Table 1).

Table 1: Selected predictive proportions of 25-59-year-olds returning to stable work, by type of training and subgroup: UK, 2012-18


No training

Any training

Longer than-median training

Training w/ qualification

Training w/ qualification

High-level qualifications68%82%   
Mid-level qualifications55%74%76%78%78%
Lower-level qualifications47%56% 65%63%
25-44 women, non-graduate39%55% 62% 
45-59 men, non-graduate55%  85%85%
25-44 men, graduate55%  96% 
25-44 women, graduate52%78%   
45-59 men, graduate66%  97% 

In fact, the effects are largest for non-graduates and in particular non-graduate women. Without any training, we would expect 39% of 25-44-year old non-graduate women who had recently moved out of work to return with two years, as compared against 62% of those who had undertaken training resulting in a qualification.

Participation Barriers

Unfortunately, this same group of adults are less likely to access education and training: figures from Understanding Society, a longitudinal survey, show that while more than one-in-three (35%) of 25-59-year old graduates report having had any form of training or education outside of full-time study, only about one-in-five 25-59-year-olds with GCSE-equivalent or lower qualifications report the same. There’s a laundry list of reasons for this, but we’d be safe in assuming that two stand out: time and money.

Most non-employer-provided courses (outside of statutory English and Maths) incur fees, which can put off risk-averse adults who have no way of knowing whether study will indeed pay off. Then there’s time: finding the time to study on top of family responsibilities, working and/or looking for work is difficult.

Earning before Learning

It can be even more difficult for those on flexible or zero-hours contracts (ZHCs) – who could be forced to make a choice between earning and learning at short notice. The proportion of workers on ZHCs rose sharply in the wake of the financial crisis, and there’s little to suggest that won’t be on the cards this time around – particularly in hard-hit sectors like hospitality.

Career Change Challenges

That brings us onto career changes: given the sectoral impacts of this crisis, some adults will want–or need–to change the sector in which they work, and hopefully change sector while obtaining a pay boost. This is a difficult task: we find that although most forms of education are significantly linked to ‘positive career changes’ (i.e. changing job and receiving a 10% rise in monthly pay), only full-time education appears to have a particularly large effect.

While we would expect just 5% of workers who have not experienced training to have both changed industry and received a minimum 10% pay rise compared to three years ago, our findings indicate that 11% of those who had completed some full-time education in the interim would have done so.

Results for other forms of education are smaller (see Table 2).

Table 2: Predictive proportion of 25-59-year-olds returning to stable work after having workless spell, by type of training: UK, 2012-18

Resolution Table 2

We shouldn’t infer from these findings that shorter or part-time courses are unlikely to help a person make a positive career change. Instead, we should see these findings as a reflection of just how difficult each stage of the career change process is.

For instance, understanding how a person’s skills translate into a new field, how they should set about finding a new role, and whether that move will financially pay off.

Even then, there’s the question of training for it:can they afford to balance study, work, and family responsibilities – let alone the nerves that can come with re-entering the classroom after a long time away.

Three Reforms for the White Paper

  1. First, policymakers should of course look to learning as one way to tackle the high levels of unemployment coming down the track. Even despite a difficult job market, there is strong evidence to suggest that training can play a substantial role in helping lower-qualified workers re-enter a job after a spell of worklessness.
  2. Second, over the short-to-medium term, government should consider policies that would help adults re-enter work and/or change career by adopting more sector-focused job creation initiatives that have training built into them – green jobs like retrofitting and social care could be good candidates.
  3. And third, policymakers should develop plans to help adults retrain over the longer- term. Allowing adults to access maintenance support while studying in further education, allowing student finance on a modular basis so that learners build up credits over time, and removing ‘equivalent or lower qualification’ restrictions would make a world of difference.

There’s no panacea – policy will have to fire on all fronts.

Kathleen Henehan, Senior Research and Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation

'Revolutionary Forces'

In the immediate aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is easy to forget that there were wider revolutionary forces at work on the UK’s economy before the virus outbreak.

Issues such as Brexit, the rise of automation in the workplace, longer working lives, and poor UK productivity have brought into even sharper focus, education and skills. NCFE and Campaign for Learning (CfL), published the first in the series of ‘Revolutionary Forces’ discussion papers on 6 July 2020.

In this Revolutionary Forces series different perspectives and proposed reforms for the post-16 education and training system have been brought together in one pamphlet, from expert stakeholders, think-tanks and educational professionals.

Building on the recommendations outlined in the first paper for flexible reforms that support economic and social renewal, this new paper, "Reforms for a Revolutionary Post-16 White Paper", takes a deeper look at which areas need to be addressed.

The authors are:

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel shared a video in channel. 9 hours 49 minutes ago

Zoom in on Apprenticeships

Georgia chats with Victoria Gage, Careers Hub Lead at Devon County Council.

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel shared a video in channel. 9 hours 51 minutes ago

Future Skills Centre

Welcome to the Future Skills Centre. A fully refurbished venue operated by Exeter College in partnership with Devon County Council, the Future...

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 9 hours 52 minutes ago

Activate Learning students are chosen to appear in nationwide showcase: Activate Learning (@Activate_Learn) is exci… https://t.co/XdAIbiwoYz
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page