Career progression research

Woman and man talking

In March 2017, the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) and the Society for Education and Training (SET) commissioned the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) to support them with devising, analysing and reporting an online survey of staff within the education and training sector. The aim of the survey was to explore career progression within the sector, including enabling factors and barriers.

The survey was developed by NFER in collaboration with a SET Fellow at the University of Wolverhampton and reviewed by ETF and SET. It was then administered by ETF via Snap Surveys.

A link to the survey was emailed to 14,000 SET members who were invited to complete the survey over a two week period – between 13 and 24 March 2017.The survey was completed by 796 respondents.

The research is the first of its kind to provide evidence for barriers to career progression including workload and lack of time, as well as identifying a desire for developing greater expertise and knowledge and the types of support needed to help these be achievable, such as gaining (further) on-the-job experience.

Key findings of the research:

Career aspirations

Respondents stated how they would like their career to progress over the next one to two years:

  • a quarter ranked their main priority as developing expertise in their current role
  • other main priorities included: taking on greater management responsibilities (16%); developing sector/subject knowledge (13%); and remaining in their current role (10%).

Barriers to career progression

The most significant barrier to career progression is:

  • workload and lack of time preventing take-up of continuing professional development (CPD) or higher-level study (50%).

 Other commonly reported barriers included:

  • lack of encouragement and support from the institution’s management
  • lack of promotion or development opportunities
  • lack of appropriate subject-specialist CPD.

Only one in ten respondents reported that they had not experienced any barriers.

Motivation for joining sector

The most popular reason for joining the Further Education and Training  sector is:

  • enjoyment in working with young and adult learners, inspiring the next generation, helping them realise their potential and transforming lives.

 Download a full copy of the report.