New research reveals the transformative impact of FE and training professionals in the UK

New research from the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) and the Society for Education and Training (SET) highlights the transformative impact that Further Education (FE) and Training has on the lives of learners across the UK. The research is released as the ETF and SET launch the #TogetherWeTransform initiative to champion those in the sector. 

The ETF and SET’s survey of 2,000 UK adults found that the majority have witnessed the transformative power of FE and training in some way. Two-fifths (40%) have taken part in some type of FE and training themselves, and 56% know someone who has.  

Other key findings from the research include: 

  • Almost 9 in 10 (88%) of those with a friend, family member or colleague who’s taken part in FE and training found it to be a positive step for that person in developing their career. 
  • Over 4 in 5 UK adults (82%) agree that FE and training can be useful in advancing or finding a career or job. 
  • Over two-thirds (68%) would consider undertaking a FE / training course to boost their skillset. 

FE is for everyone 

With 60% of adults reporting that they are, have, or would, consider changing career path, FE and training is a route that’s accessible to all. Over two-thirds (67%) say it allows everyone to acquire new knowledge and skills. 60% said it provides the opportunity to retrain in another career, or change career direction entirely. 

The research demonstrates that FE and training’s opportunities for lifelong learning become increasingly important to people over time. 12% more people aged over 55 have taken part in FE (44%) compared to 16 to 34-year-olds (32%). This is at a time when the number of people in employment aged 65 and over has hit record levels in the last year, and people aged 50 and over make up almost a third of the UK’s workforce

Inspiring confidence and building skills 

The FE and training sector builds skills to help people feel more confident and better equipped. 41% of UK adults said experience of FE and training gave a friend, colleague or family member confidence in developing their own skills. Almost 7 out of 10 adults (69%) say that they would consider undertaking a FE and training course to boost their skillset. Of these respondents, more women (74%) than men (61%) agree that FE and training boosts their skillset.   

Mozz Baker, an Advanced Practitioner in the Department of Construction at Walsall College in the West Midlands, explains how FE boosted his own confidence and skillset: “I really didn’t do too well at school, I didn’t enjoy it. But when I got to college, I suddenly realised I was more academically capable than I’d really ever understood before. Further Education really did give me that opportunity to progress. I did part time teaching – I fell in love with it and thought, ‘this is what I want to do long term’.” Read more about individuals’ transformative experiences of FE here

Championing FE professionals   

This research follows a sector-wide strategic insight and listening exercise, which involved senior sector leaders as well as input from more than 4,200 practitioners. Results from this rigorous exercise are being used to inform the launch of a new strategy for the ETF later in the year, ahead of our ten-year anniversary. The strategy will renew our commitment to our core charitable purpose – improving education and training for learners aged 14 and over – and recognise the vital importance of supporting FE and training professionals to achieve that.  

Katerina Kolyva, Chief Executive at the ETF, commented:  

“Our research shows the transformational impact that FE and training has in advancing careers and unlocking opportunities for everyone. Transforming lives wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of dedicated, professional staff working throughout the sector, often in challenging circumstances.   

“ETF and SET exist to boost the professional development of everyone working in the sector and provide a pathway of support at every stage of their career. We support teachers, trainers and leaders to excel through the very best development opportunities and champion the professionalism of our diverse and vibrant sector.  

“As we look ahead, it is vital that we learn from the insight gathered over the past few months. We will continue to listen to our sector colleagues to ensure we work in partnership to make the most valuable possible contribution to supporting the sector’s workforce. Working together, we want to ensure that we are meeting the needs of every practitioner, in whatever FE and training setting they work so that they can focus on continuing their transformative work to help learners achieve their potential.”  

Share your stories of how FE impacted your life using #TogetherWeTransform on social media.  

To hear from FE teachers and trainers about how #TogetherWeTransform, watch our video: Together we transform

Find out more about the #TogetherWeTransform initiative at

Read the full research report here.