BMG undertook research for the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) the government-backed, sector-owned, national support body for the Further Education and Training sector, to support policy-makers and the sector in making informed investment decisions around workforce development.

The findings from the resulting Training Needs Analysis report provide many positive messages as well as highlighting some areas requiring additional attention.[1]

BMG were delighted to be commissioned to undertake this vital research, coming at a key time for the FE sector as it responds to the changes resulting from the technical education reforms, including the introduction of T-Levels. The high level of engagement and response we received to the Training Needs Analysis survey ensures the findings are representative of the whole sector and include the perspectives of over 400 institutions and more than 2,300 individual practitioners.[2] The research also benefits from the more detailed insights of 50 representatives from the sector interviewed in-depth.

‘There was a real need to ensure we reached a large sample, gathered a range of different perspectives and collected both quantitative and qualitative data. BMG were able to provide that breadth and depth of support alongside the right level of detailed analysis that means the impact of this research will have a long-lasting impact.’ Charlynne Pullen, Head of Data and Evaluation, ETF

The research found a positive picture of widespread participation in training amongst the FE workforce:

  • An overall figure of around 90% participation in FE training and development compares well with 63% participation for the UK workforce overall and 75% for the whole education sector workforce.
  • The majority of providers felt that the training and development over the past year had met all (22%) or most (69%) of the significant needs of the organisation; although, a significant minority of individual respondents did not receive all of the training and development they wanted or needed.
  • On average, staff reported spending 44 hours on continuing professional development (CPD) over the past year, varying from 73 hours reported by governors and trustees to 22 hours spent by learning support staff. Lecturers/teachers/tutors spent an average of 41 hours on CPD over the past year.

However, it was recognised that continued commitment to high-quality CPD is crucial to support the sector to respond to ongoing reforms. Around seven in ten of the FE sector workforce believe they would benefit from training and development over the next year, with institutions providing a similar picture. There is also a high level of demand for training that would lead to a qualification (22%) or accreditation (11%).

To address future training needs, a focus on leadership and management and English, maths and digital skills were seen as crucial to support the sector over the next three years, with key drivers of training being national policy changes, including apprenticeship reform (a key concern for Independent Training Providers), and the reforms to technical education (the biggest issue for colleges).

The high level of response to the survey ensures the ETF and their partners are best able to understand and target the support provided to key subgroups in the sector, so the needs of different provider types and those from a range of roles are met effectively.

Further information and the ten most significant findings highlighted by the ETF can be found here.


[1] The Training Need Analysis was commissioned by the ETF, in partnership with the Association of Colleges (AoC), Association of Employer and Learning Providers (AELP) and HOLEX, the lead body for Adult and Community Learning providers.

[2] The survey was delivered using a combination of online and telephone methods and took place between September 2017 and January 2018. Responses were received from 2,366 individual respondents and 481 learning providers.

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