The two-year initiative aims to encourage professionals to share their expert technical skills and knowledge from key sectors with students. Industry professionals will be supported to enter into full- or part-time teaching in colleges through closer collaboration between the further education college sector and industry.
The GBP 5 m Department for Education programme will fund initial teacher education for industry experts who wish to retrain as well as industry or education provider innovation projects. Financial support for teacher training course costs and mentoring is available for up to 150 industry experts during the two-year period.
Priority will be given to the childcare, education, digital, construction, engineering, manufacturing and other STEM () sectors in line with identified needs of the UK economy. These professional areas are also linked to the new T level routes to be developed as part of a reform of upper secondary VET qualifications in England. The first T levels in digital, construction and education and childcare are due to be taught from 2020 while the remaining T level routes are scheduled to be introduced in a phased approach.
The Post-16 skills plan and the government’s Industrial strategy both emphasise the importance of employer engagement in VET. Industry professionals possess knowledge of up-to-date skills, techniques, approaches and equipment used in their sectors. Involvement of industry experts will subsequently ensure T level students are taught the skills, knowledge and methods the industry is calling for.
The programme, in addition to ensuring there are sufficient numbers of teachers with recent industry experience to deliver the T level programmes, is also expected to establish a long-term recruitment pipeline of industry experts for the college sector by developing closer partnerships with industry and improving recruitment processes and strategies.
Funding will, therefore, also be awarded to up to 40 innovative projects aimed at improving partnerships between colleges and industry as well as retaining and developing the skills of the existing teaching workforce and making sure their skills are up to date. This includes giving teachers access to industry standard facilities and resources through professional development in industry and supporting secondments for industry professionals into colleges. Closer collaboration is encouraged to reduce barriers to teacher recruitment through greater employer understanding of the college sector and raising the profile of the teaching profession.
The programme was designed in collaboration with the Association of Colleges and the Education and Training Foundation and will be managed by the foundation.