Education and training

Further education

Teaching in further education (FE) covers three main areas – vocational training, academic teaching, or basic skills, ie literacy and numeracy. You could also be employed to teach on leisure and recreational courses. FE Teachers commonly work in sixth form or further education colleges, but could also include prisons, community education centres, or places of work. Work is often on a part-time basis, and may involve working for more than one institution, while in colleges of further education, classes may be taught in the evenings and possibly at weekends.

In the UK, extra funding for the FE sector has been allocated to the development of the new ‘T levels’, new technical education qualifications post the age of 16. Courses in construction, digital and education & childcare will be first taught from September 2020, with 22 further subjects being introduced from 2021. These will cover sectors including finance & accounting, engineering & manufacturing, and creative & design.

Shortage subject areas include English and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), while there will also be a need for teachers in the T level subjects listed above. The demand for STEM teachers is in part being addressed via “The SET for Teaching Success programme” aimed at Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) graduates with a teaching qualification and paid employment for the duration of their training.

Types of graduate roles

Teaching jobs exist under various titles, including Further Education teacher/tutor, FE lecturer, Basic Skills tutor, or for vocational subjects, Trainer, Assessor or similar. There may also be jobs as Mentors and Learning Support Assistants.

There is a diverse range of other jobs that involve working with children and young people in a non-teaching role within schools, vocational training schemes, colleges and therapeutic settings eg parent support adviser, student adviser, portage worker, youth worker. Refer to the publication 'Education Alternatives' for a comprehensive overview (link provided in the 'Useful websites' section below).

Entry points

Different qualifications and training routes relate to teaching in the 'Lifelong Learning' sector. They range from the Level 3 Award in Education and Training, to the Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training, which might sometimes be referred to as a PGCE (FE) or Cert Ed. It depends upon the specific job role and work environment as to which will be most relevant. Teaching in further education is deregulated in that individual college principals and heads can decide what qualifications they look for when recruiting teaching staff. They typically prefer to recruit teachers who hold qualifications OR who are prepared to study for one.

There are several ways in which employment may be secured in this sector. For teaching vocational courses, you will need to have a number of years' experience and qualifications in the area of work concerned. In addition you will need to possess or be willing to undertake a teacher training qualification.

To teach academic subjects, eg GCSEs and A-Levels, you would usually need to have a degree in the subject you wish to teach and hold a teaching qualification, or alternatively be prepared to study for one alongside your job.

Teachers of basic skills are expected to have some experience of working with this client group and hold or be willing to undertake one of the specialist diploma courses alongside their work.

For more detailed information about qualifications for FE teaching, refer to the FE Advice website

Skills and experience required

As well as a passion for your subject, you will need to have strong communication skills and the ability to engage with and inspire your students. Patience and sensitivity will also be crucial if working within the area of basic skills, as well as emotional intelligence and well-developed interpersonal skills. You should also be able to work under pressure and to plan and organise your work, especially if you work in more than one institution.

To gain experience, in the first instance try approaching colleges and ask to observe classes. This can lead to an opportunity to assist with sessions or work with groups of students. There is also a Work Experience Scheme 'Talent to Teach in FE' (previously called ‘Pathways to FE’) which offers Home or EU final year students and postgraduates a one week work placement in a Further Education provider in England. The placement includes a tax-free £300 bursary. Check details on the website - link to the scheme is in the ‘Useful websites’ section below.

Job search strategies

There are a variety of vacancy sources for FE Teaching posts, which are listed in the ‘Useful websites’ section of this article. In addition to the websites of individual colleges for jobs, there are specialist recruitment agencies such as Protocol.

Useful websites for further information
Become a teacher in further education and training
Video produced by the Education and Training Foundation giving reasons for considering a career in this sector.
Community education officer (Targetjobs)
Typical responsibilities and key employers.
Education and training (National Careers Service)
A wide range of jobs in education, training and instruction.
Environmental education officer (Targetjobs)
Includes responsibilities, skills, qualification needed and typical employers.
FE advice
The 'want to work in the sector’ section provides essential information.
FE careers
Jobs board covering careers in learning and development.
FE jobs
Search by keyword and location.
FE jobs (AOC Jobs)
College jobs, sixth form and special education.
Further education teacher (Prospects)
Provides an insight into responsibilities, working conditions, skills and experience required.
Lecturer, adult education (Targetjobs)
Details of the responsibilities and typical employers including: colleges, adult education centres, prisons and armed forces.
Lecturer, further education (Targetjobs)
Typical responsibilities and employers, qualifications and training.
Placing people first (Protocol)
A specialist recruitment agency in the education, skills and training sectors.
Talent to Teach in FE
A government funded placement programme in FE teaching for final year undergraduates (Home and EU).
Teaching and education (Prospects)
Job profiles related to careers in teaching, including teaching English as a foreign language.
Teaching qualifications for the FE and skills sector
A list of teaching qualifications approved for the sector.
TES - jobs
Teaching and educational jobs.

Last updated: 23 May 2019