Further Education is a growing part of all of our lives, and is a vital component of what will help to push Britain forward in the 21st Century. And yet, on top of the realisation of Government funding cuts in the FE sector at the beginning of Adult Learning Week, it has recently come to light that there is a shortage in applicants both for training to become an educator and for posts within the sector. This comes as no surprise to Gavin O”Meara, the Managing Director of Further Education Recruitment company Chimeara.
“We need to make Further Education sexy”, he said. “We work in an industry where we really make a difference to society. FE affects the lives of 16 year olds to 90 year olds. We need to work hard to attract people to the industry. If the average person understood the difference an Entry to Employment (e2e) Tutor or an Assessor on a NVQ or Apprenticeship programme could make to a young person who was potentially let down by the traditional education system, then they would want to get involved.”
He recognises that the sector as a whole has what would be termed an “image problem”, and believes that this has contributed to the problems that are being experienced today. “If you ask the average person about FE, they think of colleges or pottery classes, people who were not clever enough to make it to University or retired people who want to meet new friends. Our industry has so much more to offer. We make a real difference. FE is the unsung hero of the education sector and it’s about time that we let everyone know about it.”
Gavin also realises that these problems are not simply a matter of public perception, but are also partially the responsibility of those who work inside the industry. “If no one understands what FE is, then how can we attract new blood into the sector, let alone the cream of the educational crop? We need to shape up our image. People who are pioneers within the FE sector think the word FE is solely for colleges and if you ask a training provider to describe themselves they will say they are either a charity or an adult learning provider. If we cant explain our services to each other, how can we explain them to someone new to the sector? We have to think how we can raise our profile and tell the world about the wonders of Further Education. We need a consensus and a joint voice for our sector…. we need to show the average Joe that FE is sexy!”
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