Academic year 2021/22

Further education workforce

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See all updates (4) for Academic year 2021/22
  1. Footnotes added to underlying data tables.

  2. Addition to new provider sub groupings to underlying data tables. Revision made to overall teacher vacancy rate, functional skills subject vacancy rate and other subject vacancy rate.

  3. Featured table on salaries by region amended from showing mean to median, to align with all other tables.

  4. Update made to chart title in Size of the Further Education Workforce, and to regional salary figures in text of Pay by Region to align with table.

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Introduction

This is the first release in the series of annual statistics on the further education workforce in England. The information in this release is based on data collected in the Further Education Workforce Data Collection (FEWDC) and covers the 2021 to 2022 academic year.

The FEWDC collects information on the FE workforce and vacancies from the following providers:

  • General Further Education Colleges (GFECs), including tertiary colleges
  • Sixth form colleges
  • Private sector public funded providers, which includes Independent Training Providers (ITPs)
  • Other public funded providers. This includes some Higher Education (HE) providers, some Local Authority (LA) providers and a small number of University Technical Colleges (UTCs), specialist colleges and 16-19 free schools

It also collects data about governors from GFECs (including tertiary colleges) and sixth form colleges, including designated institutions. 

Not all providers in scope were able to return data for the collection. The figures in this release are therefore estimates based on known data and should be treated with caution.

The FEWDC is a mandatory collection, therefore it is expected that in future years coverage will improve beyond that presented in this publication. Improved coverage will improve the quality and accuracy of findings.

More information on the data coverage is provided in the “About these statistics” section. Information on the scaling method used to account for missing data is provided in the methodology.

As FE providers become more familiar with the requirements of the collection, the coverage should increase and therefore improve the data quality and accuracy of any estimates. 

This release is badged as experimental official statistics, which means that these statistics are undergoing evaluation for quality and user need. If you have feedback, please use the details in the “Contact us” section. 


Headline facts and figures - 2021/22

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About these statistics

The first mandatory Further Education Workforce Data Collection (FEWDC) was collected in September 2022. Data for the 2021 to 2022 academic year was collected from FE providers in scope. As this was a new data collection, we expected some issues with incomplete coverage and data quality. This section provides information on the collection to aid interpretation of our findings. We have scaled up the data from providers that returned data to create estimates for the size of the workforce. See methodology for more information. 

The FEWDC is a mandatory collection, therefore it is expected that in future years coverage will improve beyond that presented in this publication. Improved coverage will improve the quality and accuracy of findings. 

A higher proportion of General Further Education Colleges (GFECs) and sixth form colleges returned data, compared to private sector public funded providers and other public funded providers returning data. This means we have higher confidence in the figures provided for GFECs and sixth form colleges. 

The data collection was split into three parts, which could be completed separately by further education providers.

1. Further education workforce

This part of the data collection relates to staff employed by further education providers, including information on pay and characteristics. 

The following further education providers were in scope:

  • General Further Education Colleges (GFECs), including tertiary colleges
  • Sixth form colleges
  • Private sector public funded providers, often referred to as Independent Training Providers (ITPs)
  • Other public funded providers. This includes some Higher Education (HE) providers, some Local Authority (LA) providers and a small number of University Technical Colleges (UTCs), specialist colleges and 16-19 free schools.

Each record collected related to a single member of staff employed by a provider, and the details of their main contract. Some staff may have been employed by more than one provider and therefore have more than one record in the data collection.

Overall, 75.6% of the 1,657 further education providers in scope for the 2021/22 FEWDC, returned data. 

Impact on conclusions

The proportion of GFECs (97.3%) and sixth form colleges (97.7%) returning data was high. The proportion of other public funded providers (73.7%) and private sector public funded providers (71.6%) returning data was lower, however. This means we have higher confidence in the figures provided for GFECs and sixth form colleges.

Although there are a relatively small number of GFECs, they have much larger student cohorts compared to other types of FE provider. This means that despite accounting for only 11% of providers they account for a far higher FE student population.

Some breakdowns provided for GFECs and sixth form colleges are not provided for other public funded providers and private sector public funded providers due to lower response rates. 

We expect that the proportion of providers returning data will improve over time as the sector becomes more familiar with the collection. 

2. Further education vacancies

This part of the data collection relates to teaching and management/leadership vacancies.

The following further education providers were in scope:

  • General Further Education Colleges (GFECs), including tertiary colleges
  • Sixth form colleges
  • Private sector public funded providers, often referred to as Independent Training Providers (ITPs)
  • Other public funded providers. This includes some Higher Education (HE) providers, some Local Authority (LA) providers and a small number of University Technical Colleges (UTCs), specialist colleges and 16-19 free schools. 

Of the 1,657 further education providers in scope for the 2021/22 vacancy collection, 51.4% returned data. 

Impact on conclusions

The proportion of providers returning data to this part of the data collection was lower than that of the workforce data collection for all provider types. Throughout this publication we have not attempted to estimate the number of vacancies in providers that have not returned data. This is because it is not possible to determine if the vacancies in the providers that returned data are indicative of the vacancies in the providers who did not return data. 

This means that vacancy figures shown in this release relate to only the 51.4% of providers that returned data and therefore could undercount the true number of vacancies in the FE sector.

3. Governors

This part of the data collection collected data from GFECs and sixth form colleges about the size and characteristics of their governing bodies. 

The following further education providers were in scope:

  • General Further Education Colleges (GFECs), including tertiary colleges
  • Sixth form colleges.

Of the 231 colleges in scope for the 2021/22 governor data collection, 87.9% provided data. This is lower than the proportion of GFECs and sixth form colleges that returned data on the staff workforce data collection. 

Impact on conclusions

We have provided estimates for the number of governors in GFECs and sixth form colleges. As the proportion of providers who return data to the collection increases in future years, these estimates will become more accurate. See methodology for further details about the scaling. 

The size of the further education workforce

The national figures shown in this release are an estimate of the size of the further education (FE) workforce. To calculate estimates, we scaled up the the data of providers who made a return in the FE workforce data collection, to account for those providers who did not. This means that although not all providers returned data, the figures here represent our best estimate of the size of the FE workforce for all providers in scope.

Information on the scaling technique can be found in the methodology, as well as information about the roles included in each staff category.

Unscaled data are available in the data catalogue.

There were an estimated 205,200 (headcount) staff working in the further education sector in the 2021/22 academic year. Most staff were employed by General Further Education Colleges including Tertiary (GFECs) (58.4%) and private sector public funded providers (25.2%).

A higher proportion of the workforce in sixth form colleges and other public funded providers are teaching staff, compared to private sector public funded providers and GFECs.

Workforce characteristics

This section presents key workforce characteristics for the whole FE sector. At the end of each section a link is provided to tables showing a breakdown of the data by provider type and roles.

All figures presented for sector totals have been weighted by provider type and role. See methodology for more details and an example calculation. 

Gender

The further education workforce is predominantly (65.6%) female, and while this is true across all role types, it is particularly prominent in admin and support roles.

A quarter (23.6%) of staff in other public funded providers are male, compared to a third in GFECs (34.4%), sixth form colleges (34.2%) and private sector public funded providers (34.9%).

Three out of every five (60.2%) FE teachers are female, which is similar to the 61.0% of learners participating in FE and skills in 2021/22 who were female.

A further breakdown is available for gender by individual provider type and roles.

Ethnicity 

In the 2021/22 academic year, 18.9% of the further education workforce identified as belonging to an ethnic minority group. 

Some 6.0% of the workforce identified as Asian or Asian British, 5.7% identified as white minority groups and 3.8% as Black or Black British.

By comparison, 10.1% of the working age population were recorded as Asian or Asian British, 8.8% white minority groups and 4.4% Black or Black British in the 2021 Census,

Staff identifying as belonging to an ethnic minority group are not equally represented at leadership positions. In the 2021/22 academic year, 11.1% of FE leaders identified as belonging to an ethnic minority group, with 3.4% identifying as Asian or Asian British and 1.6% Black or Black British. 

A further breakdown is available for ethnicity by individual provider types and roles.

Age

In the 2021/22 academic year, the median age of staff in the further education sector was 46, with the median age for all roles being over 40. 

By role:

  • Leadership staff median age was 50,
  • Management staff median age was 46,
  • Teaching staff median age was 47,
  • Support staff median age was 45,
  • Admin staff median age was 42.

A further breakdown is available for age by individual provider types and roles.

Disability status

In the 2021/22 academic year, 6.5% of the further education workforce identified as having a disability. This varied by role with staff in support roles more likely to identify as being disabled (7.9%) than staff in leadership roles (4.3%).

A further breakdown is available for disability status by individual provider types and roles.

Subjects taught by teaching staff

The Further Education Workforce Data Collection asked providers to select the main subject taught by each member of their teaching staff from a list of options. If a member of teaching staff teaches multiple subjects, the subject they spend most of their time teaching would be selected as their main subject.

The most common subject selected for teachers was "Other” (9.2% of teaching staff). In future years we intend to provide a more granular breakdown of this group for better understanding. 

See the methodology for which subjects are defined as academic, vocational or other subject types. 

All figures presented for sector totals have been weighted by provider type and role. See methodology for more details. 

In the 2021/22 academic year, for their main subject, 51.0% of teaching staff taught vocational subjects, 22.1% academic subjects and 26.9% other subject types. 

  • In General Further Education Colleges including Tertiary (GFECs), almost half of teaching staff taught vocational subjects (48.8%),
  • In sixth form colleges, the majority of teaching staff taught academic subjects (58.0%),
  • In private sector public funded providers, the majority of teaching staff taught vocational subjects (73.4%),
  • In other public funded providers, the majority of teaching staff taught other subject types (41.3%). 

In the 2021/22 academic year, the following subjects were most commonly reported as main subject taught:

  • Health, public services and care (8.2%),
  • Business, management and administration (6.2%),
  • Construction, planning and the built environment (5.2%),
  • Maths (3.9%),
  • English (3.8%).

A further breakdown is available for the main subject taught by teaching staff in each provider type. 

Working patterns and contract types

Providers were asked to report information on an individual's main contract only. 

We have scaled up data by provider type and role to calculate the estimates in this section. This means that although not all providers returned data, the figures represent our best estimates of the total number and percentage of staff for each working pattern or contract type across the providers in scope. The methodology provides more details on scaling , including an example calculation.

 Working patterns were only collected for staff who had permanent or fixed term contracts.  See methodology for more information. 

Working patterns

In the 2021/22 academic year, two thirds of the workforce (67.0%) worked full time. The workforce in private sector public funded providers were more likely to work full time than in other provider types:

  • In General Further Education Colleges including Tertiary (GFECs), 63.3% of the workforce worked full time;
  • In sixth form colleges and other public funded providers, 56.6% of the workforce worked full time;
  • In private sector public funded providers, 80.3% of the workforce worked full time.

In the 2021/22 academic year, most of the workforce in leadership, management, teaching or admin roles worked full time:

  • 64.3% of teaching staff worked full time;
  • 53.6% of support staff worked full time;
  • 73.0% of admin staff worked full time;
  • 85.4% of management staff worked full time;
  • 91.3% of leadership staff worked full time.

By comparison, ONS data shows that 77% of working age people (16 to 64 year olds) who were employed in 2021 worked full time and 23% worked part time.

A further breakdown is available for working patterns by individual provider type and roles.

Contract types

In the 2021/22 academic year, 81.9% of the workforce had permanent contracts. The use of zero hour or variable hour contracts was more common in other public funded providers than other provider types:

  • In GFECs, 79.3% of the workforce had permanent contracts,
  • In sixth form colleges, 83.4% of the workforce had permanent contracts,
  • In private sector public funded providers, 92.8% of the workforce had permanent contracts,
  • In other public funded providers, 70.4% of the workforce had permanent contracts.

Staff in management and leadership roles (over 95%) were most likely to have a permanent contract and teaching staff (77.7%) the least likely:

  • 77.7% of teaching staff had permanent contracts;
  • 80.8% of support staff had permanent contracts;
  • 82.3% of admin staff had permanent contracts;
  • 96.3% of management staff had permanent contracts;
  • 96.5% of leadership staff had permanent contracts.

A further breakdown is available for contract types by individual provider type and roles.

Further education workforce pay

The average (median) salary has been calculated based on data provided in the Further Education Workforce Data Collection and has not been scaled to account for providers who did not return data. This is because we do not have a methodology to accurately estimate the salaries of the individuals working in the providers that did not respond to the data collection. Therefore, estimates for provider types with a lower response rate are likely to be less accurate. 

Staff who are employed on permanent or fixed term contracts usually work a regular number of hours per week. Due to how data was recorded in the data collection, this allows us to calculate an average annual salary for these employees.

Staff employed on zero hours, variable hours, or other contract types often work different hours each week. Limitations in the way the data was collected from providers means that making an accurate estimate of the annual salary for these staff members is not possible. As a result, staff employed on zero hour contracts are not included in workforce pay calculations. We are working on adapting future collections to ensure that we can collect data which will allow us to calculate estimates of salaries for these staff.

Estimates provided in this section for the median annual salary are provided for staff employed on permanent or fixed term contracts only. In addition, throughout the whole publication, median salaries are only presented for full-time staff. Changes to the upcoming data collection should allow us to present salaries for part time staff when we publish again in 2024. 

Approximately half, 57% (103,800), of all individuals recorded in the data collection work full -time, or have a fixed term or permanent contract. This means that median salaries presented in this section have only been calculated for those individuals. Male staff are more likely to work full-time and on a permanent or fixed term contract than female staff and therefore are overrepresented in median pay calculations. We have not attempted to adjust for this in our calculations. Therefore our estimates of full-time salaries are not a fully representative estimate of salaries for all staff. 

See methodology for more information. 

Pay by provider type:

The median salary for full time members of the workforce on permanent or fixed term contracts varied by provider and role. 

In 2021/22, the median average annual salary for teaching staff was:

  • £33,400 in General Further Education Colleges including Tertiary (GFECs),
  • £42,100 in sixth form colleges,
  • £28,100 in private sector public funded,
  • £34,600 in other public funded providers.

Further breakdowns are available for the median annual salary:

Pay by region for teaching staff

Pay by region is based on the location of the provider, as recorded in the Individualised Learner Record (ILR) database. Further education providers may operate across multiple locations and regions. Therefore staff recorded as employed by a provider may not necessarily be working in the region that the college has been allocated to.

Private sector public funded providers have the smallest range of salaries between regions for teaching staff; from £27,000 in the West Midlands and South East to £33,000 in London, a 22% difference.

Other public funded providers have the biggest range of salaries between regions for teaching staff; from £28,200 in the East Midlands to £41,800 in the South East, a 48% difference.

Data on salaries for other roles, across regions are shown in this table.

Salary by subject

Average salary has not been calculated for subjects with 50 or less full time permanent or fixed term contract teaching staff since smaller numbers are likely to make the data less representative.

This year we have presented subject breakdowns for General Further Education Colleges including Tertiary (GFECs) and sixth form colleges only. In future years we plan to include subject breakdowns for private sector public funded providers and other public funded provider, as the proportion of providers responding to the data collection for these provider types increases.

Average salary is based on the main subject that each teacher taught. For instance, if a member of teaching staff taught geography for 50% of their time, mathematics 40% and sociology 10%, their salary would be reported for geography.

Median salaries are shown for full-time staff only, part-time staff are not included. This means any staff working part time in the provider, and part time in industry would not be included in this analysis. 

The top ten highest-paid subjects are all academic subjects.

There was a £12,800 (47%) difference between the highest and lowest paid average salary by subject:

  • Teaching staff teaching geography as their main subject had the highest median annual salary of £40,100.
  • Teaching staff teaching animal care as their main subject had the lowest median annual salary of £27,300.

Unfilled teaching and management/leadership vacancies

Unfilled teaching and management/leadership vacancy figures are based only on the 51.4% of further education providers in scope who returned both the vacancy data collection and the workforce data collection. 

We have not attempted to scale these figures up to provide an overall estimate for all providers due to potential bias in the data return. For example, a provider with many/few vacancies may be less/more likely to return data.

What do we mean by unfilled vacancy?

Providers were asked to report how many vacancies there were for teaching and management/leadership positions throughout the 2021/22 academic year. They were also asked how many of these were filled during the year. 

We then calculated the number of unfilled teaching vacancies at the end of the 2021/22 academic year by subtracting the number of teaching vacancies that were filled during the year from the total number of teaching vacancies throughout the year. 

An equivalent calculation was used to determine the number of unfilled management and leadership vacancies.

What do we mean by unfilled vacancy rate?

The unfilled teaching vacancy rate shows the number of unfilled teaching vacancies by the end of the 2021/22 academic year, per 100 teaching positions. 

The unfilled management and leadership vacancy rate shows the number of unfilled management and leadership vacancies by the end of the 2021/22 academic year, per 100 management and leadership positions. 

An example calculation is shown in the methodology. 

Unfilled teaching vacancies

Vacancy figures shown in this section relate to only 51.4% of providers. Therefore we have reported vacancy figures as a rate, rather than the number of vacancies. This is because there could be potential bias in the data return. For example, a provider with many/few vacancies may be less/more likely to return data.

By the end of the 2021/22 academic year 5.5 per 100 teaching positions were vacant.

Sixth form colleges (1.4 per 100 positions) had the lowest unfilled vacancy rate for teaching staff and other public funded providers the highest (6.5 per 100). 

By region, at the end of the 2021/22 academic year, the highest unfilled teaching vacancy rate:

  • For General Further Education Colleges including Tertiary (GFECs), was in Yorkshire and The Humber (8.8 per 100),
  • For sixth form colleges, was in the West Midlands (3.8 per 100),
  • For private sector public funded providers, was in the East of England (7.4 per 100),
  • For other public funded providers, was in London (10.1 per 100).

We determined providers' region using the Individualised Learner Record (ILR) database. Further education providers may operate across multiple locations and regions. Therefore some vacancies recorded by a provider may not necessary be for positions in the region that the college has been allocated to. 

By subject

Vacancy figures shown in this section relate to only 51.4% of providers. Therefore we have reported vacancy figures as a rate, rather than the number of vacancies. This is because there could be potential bias in the data return. For example, a provider with many/few vacancies may be less/more likely to return data.

Subjects taught by 50 staff or less have been excluded from these figures since smaller numbers are likely to make the data less representative.

The subjects with the highest rate of teaching positions that were vacant by the end of the 2021/22 academic year were:

  • Construction, Planning and the Built Environment (12.9 per 100),
  • Electronics (12.6 per 100),
  • Agriculture and Horticulture (12.1 per 100).

Unfilled management and leadership vacancies: 

Vacancy figures shown in this section relate to only 51.4% of providers. Therefore we have reported vacancy figures as a rate, rather than the number of vacancies. This is because there could be potential bias in the data return. For example, a provider with many/few vacancies may be less/more likely to return data.

By the end of the 2021/22 academic year, 2.6 per 100 management and leadership positions were vacant.  

Sixth form colleges (1.0 unfilled vacancy per 100 positions) had the lowest unfilled vacancy rate for management and leadership staff and General Further Education Colleges (GFECs) the highest (3.2 per 100).

We determined providers' region using the Individualised Learner Record (ILR) database. Further education providers may operate across multiple locations and regions. Therefore some vacancies recorded by a provider may not necessary be for positions in the region that the college has been allocated to. 

By region, at the end of the 2021/22 academic year:

  • London had the highest proportion of leadership and management positions still unfilled for General Further Education Colleges including Tertiary (GFECs) (4.7 per 100) and other public funded providers (3.3 per 100).  
  • West Midlands had the highest proportion of leadership and management positions still unfilled, for sixth form colleges (4.4 per 100) and private sector public funded providers (3.0 per 100). 

Governors

The figures provided here are estimates of the number of governors in General Further Education Colleges including Tertiary (GFECs) and sixth form colleges. To calculate estimates, we scaled up the data of providers who made a return in the FE workforce data collection, to account for those providers who did not. Information on the scaling technique can be found in the Methodology.

Unscaled data are available in the data catalogue.

We estimate that there were 3,800 (headcount) governors serving in colleges, in the 2021/22 academic year:

  • 3,000 governors in GFECs,
  • 800 governors in sixth form colleges. 

Under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, the members of the governing body of a college corporation must include staff and students and, in the case of sixth-form college corporations, parents of students under 19. Although this is not a requirement, it is common for the principal/CEO to also be a member of the governing body.

In the 2021/22 academic year, nearly three quarters (74.5%) of governors in GFECs were independent governors, which was higher than the 67.3% reported in sixth form colleges. However unlike GFECs, sixth form colleges must have parent governors. In total, parent governors accounted for 6.5% of all sixth form college governors.

Length of time in role

The FE governance guide says in the section on Terms of office (under Recruiting and developing governors): "All the governance codes used by corporations emphasise the value of board membership being refreshed at intervals." 

In the 2021/22 academic year, two thirds (66.9%) of governors had been in their role for four years or less. Sixth form colleges have a higher proportion of governors who have been in their role for 12 years or longer, 9.7% compared to 3.7% in GFECs (including tertiary). 

Governor characteristics

Data in this section has not been scaled to account for colleges that have not responded to the data collection.  This is because we do not have any previously collected datasets about governor characteristics to compare the scaled figures against. Therefore figures provided are for responding providers only. 

Gender

There are more male than female governors in GFECs and sixth form colleges; in 2021/22 54.9% were male. 

Ethnicity 

In the 2021/22 academic year, 17.5% of college governors identified as belonging to an ethnic minority group.

Some 7.1% of governors identified as Asian or Asian British, 4.1% as white minorities  and 3.7% as Black or Black British.

By comparison the 2021 Census shows, 10.1% of the working age population were Asian or Asian British, 8.8% white minority groups, and 4.4% Black or Black British.

Age 

In the 2021/22 academic year, two thirds of governors (67.7%) in further education colleges were aged 45 or older.  Sixth form colleges had a higher percentage of governors in the 16-18 age group, 9.6% compared to 4.9% in GFECs. 

The governing bodies of colleges must contain some student governors. Typically, sixth form student governors will fall into the 16-18 age group , whereas student governors in GFECs are drawn from a wider age range. This is likely to explain why sixth form colleges have a higher proportion of governors in the 16-18 age group, compared to GFECs.

Disability status

In the 2021/22 academic year, 7.2% of governors in further education colleges identified as having a disability, with a higher proportion of governors in sixth form colleges identifying as having a disability (9.2%) compared to GFECs (6.7%). 

Unfilled governor vacancies

What do we mean by unfilled vacancies?

Colleges were asked to report how many vacancies there were for governor positions throughout the 2021/22 academic year. 

They were also asked to report how many of these vacancies went on to be subsequently filled during the 2021/22 academic year. 

We used this information to calculate the number of unfilled governor vacancies at the end of the 2021/22 academic year, by subtracting the number of governor vacancies that were filled during the year from the total number of governor vacancies throughout the year. 

What do we mean by unfilled vacancy rate?

The unfilled vacancy rate relates to positions that were unfilled by the end of the 2021/22 academic year.

Vacancy figures shown in this section relate to only 87.9% of providers that returned data. Therefore we have reported vacancy figures as a rate, rather than the number of vacancies. This is because there could be potential bias in the data return. For example, a provider with many/few vacancies may be less/more likely to return data.

Overall, 6.1 per 100 governor positions were unfilled by the end of the 2021/22 academic year. Sixth form colleges had a higher rate of unfilled governor positions, at 7.4 per 100 positions, compared to 5.7 per 100 in GFECs.

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Methodology

Find out how and why we collect, process and publish these statistics.

Experimental statistics

These statistics are experimental statistics undergoing evaluation. They have been developed under the guidance of the Head of Profession for Statistics and published to involve users and stakeholders at an early stage in assessing their suitability and quality.

Experimental official statistics have been produced as far as possible in line with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

This can be broadly interpreted to mean that these statistics are:

  • managed impartially and objectively in the public interest
  • meet identified user needs
  • produced according to sound methods
  • well explained and readily accessible

Find out more about the standards we follow to produce these statistics through our Standards for official statistics published by DfE guidance.

Contact us

If you have a specific enquiry about Further education workforce statistics and data:

Further Education Workforce Team

Email: FurtherEducation.WORKFORCE@education.gov.uk
Contact name: Fran Elliott

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