From education to employment

New research reveals the transformative impact of FE and training professionals in the UK

ETF SET #TogetherWeTransform initiative graphic

New research from The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) and The Society for Education and Training (SET) highlights the transformative impact that Further Education (FE) has on the lives of learners across the UK.

  • Almost 9 in 10 (88%) adults who know someone who has studied or trained in FE said it was a positive step in developing their career
  • Two fifths (40%) of adults have taken part in FE and training
  • Over 4 in 5 adults (82%) agree FE and training can be useful in advancing or finding a career or job
  • Over two-thirds (68%) of the nation would consider undertaking a FE / training course to boost their skillset
  • ETF and SET launch #TogetherWeTransform to champion those in the sector
  • The launch comes as sector-wide insight provides steer for strategic focus of ETF to support FE professionals and improve education and training for learners.

Transforming lives

The majority of adults in the UK have witnessed the transformative power of FE and training in some way, with two-fifths (40%) having taken part in some type of FE and training themselves, and 56% knowing someone, who has. 75% of respondents agree that FE and training is an important part of society.

Almost 9 in 10 (88%) found FE and training to be a positive step in developing the career of a friend, family member or colleague. Moreover, over 4 in 5 adults (82%) agree that it can be useful in advancing or finding a career or job. With the cost-of-living crisis being felt by many, FE and training provides a route to gain new skills, unlock opportunities and advance careers.

Here for everyone, at any time

FE and training plays a critical role in helping to meet the skills challenge in this country and enabling lifelong career progression. It offers people a chance to change careers or train in something new, build confidence or develop their skills – no matter what age or stage of their career they are at. And with 60% of the nation reporting that they are, have, or would, consider changing career path, FE and training is a route that’s accessible to all. Over two-thirds (67%) say it allows everyone to acquire new knowledge and skills. 60% said it gave them the opportunity to retrain in another career, or change career direction entirely.

Interestingly, the research has shown FE and training becomes more important through the years. FE and training provides opportunities for lifelong learning. 12% more people aged over 55 have taken part in FE (44%) compared to 16 to 34-year-olds (32%). This comes at a time when the number of people in employment aged 65 and over has hit record levels in the last year, and people aged 50 and over make up almost a third of the UK’s workforce.

Inspiring confidence and building skills

By building skills in the FE and training sector, there was a consensus that people felt more confident and better equipped. 41% of UK adults said experience of FE and training gave a friend, colleague or family member confidence in developing their own skills. Almost 7 out of 10 adults (69%) said that they would consider undertaking a FE and training course to boost their skillset. Of these respondents, more women (74%) than men (61%) agree that FE and training boosts their skillset.

Championing FE professionals

The research follows a sector-wide strategic insight and listening exercise, which involved senior sector leaders as well as input from more than 4,200 practitioners. The results from this rigorous exercise are being used to inform the launch of a new strategy for ETF later in the year ahead of the organisation’s ten-year anniversary. The strategy will renew the ETF’s commitment to its core charitable purpose, improving education and training for learners aged 14 and over and recognise the vital importance of supporting FE and training professionals to achieve that.

Katerina Kolyva, Chief Executive at ETF, commented:

“Our research shows the transformational impact that FE and training has in advancing careers and unlocking opportunities for everyone. Transforming lives wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of dedicated, professional staff working throughout the sector, often in challenging circumstances.

“ETF and SET exist to boost the professional development of everyone working in the sector and provide a pathway of support at every stage of their career. We support teachers, trainers and leaders to excel through the very best development opportunities and champion the professionalism of our diverse and vibrant sector.

“As we look ahead, it is vital that we learn from the insight gathered over the past few months. We will continue to listen to our sector colleagues to ensure we work in partnership to make the most valuable possible contribution to supporting the sector’s workforce. Working together, we want to ensure that we are meeting the needs of every practitioner, in whatever FE and training setting they work so that they can focus on continuing their transformative work to help learners achieve their potential.”

The research has been launched as part of ETF and SET’s new initiative, #TogetherWeTransform, that celebrates the transformational impact further education has – for those who work in it and those who experience it. This comes as ETF looks to its 10th anniversary in October 2023.

Share your stories of how FE impacted your life using #TogetherWeTransform on social media.

To hear from FE teachers and trainers about how #TogetherWeTransform, click here.

Find out more here.

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