Pioneering FE Sector Learning and Development Providers report from ETF sets out the evidence base for investment in workforce development

Further training on organisational performance including leadership, management and governance training is needed to take the Further Education (FE) and Training sector forward, is the primary conclusion of the pioneering analysis of the training needs for Learning and Development Providers (LDPs) in the sector.

See Appendix 1 for the five most significant findings.

Published by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) today, the new findings in the Training Needs in the Further Education Sector: Learning and Development Providers report reflects the perspectives of 282 institutions and 45 individual practitioners – including teachers, trainers, leaders and assessors, delivering post-16 learning activities.

The report provides the most significant analysis of the development and training needs of the Learning and Development Providers (LDPs) workforce in the FE sector ever done. The experiences of LDPs, who are training providers that do not receive funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), were found to be considerably different to Independent Training Providers (ITPs), who are in receipt of ESFA funding, and other providers such as Colleges and Local Authorities.

Initiated by the ETF, the LDPs report is a subsidiary report from a major survey of training needs in the FE sector, the Training Needs Analysis released by ETF in April 2018. It has been supported by all the key sector membership bodies and trade unions in the sector, and the Department for Education itself.

The report’s purpose is to provide intelligence that can support policy-makers and the sector in making informed investment decisions to support the workforce, to meet the challenges and opportunities that the technical education reforms, including T levels, will bring over the next three years.

The key conclusion (see Appendix 1 for the five most significant findings) found that LDPs are usually smaller than other training providers, including ITPs, with a more ethnically diverse workforce, but usually had a national rather than a local scope. Staff in LDPs receive some of the highest levels of training in the FE sector, and training costs are also some of the highest partly – this may be because they don’t have staff inhouse to deliver this training. The training delivered to LDPs was well received, with a higher proportion of institutions feeling it had met all the needs of staff in comparison with other parts of the FE sector. However, compared to others in the sector, fewer staff felt the training they had received was of value. Staff in LDPs wanted more training on organisational performance including leadership, management and governance training in future, however, LDPs at an institutional level were happy with their training plans and didn’t need support in this area.

Charlynne Pullen, Head of Data and Evaluation at the Education and Training Foundation, said:

“The findings from the research into the under-represented Learning and Development Providers help us better understand the training needs of the whole FE sector, including those organisations that don’t currently receive public funding. This report will enable organisations across the sector to develop training which is tailored to the needs of these and other providers.

“At ETF, we play a key role in providing data and research about the whole FE sector. This research adds to our 2018 Spring series of robust and independent research, that ensures practitioners, providers and policy makers have access to high-quality and reliable data to support their decision-making.”

The research, which took place in 2017/18, was commissioned, conducted and part-funded by the ETF – the sector’s workforce development body and home of comprehensive, independent and impartial workforce data research. Overall the ETF surveyed 2,366 individual respondents and 763 learning providers (including the Learning Development Providers and their workforce) and undertook 50 in-depth discussions with senior representatives of FE sector organisations in Autumn and Winter 2017/18.

Alongside the release of the Training Needs in the Further Education Sector: Learning and Development Providers report, four individual subsidiary reports for the Training Needs Analysis are also now available for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), Digital Skills, Mental Health Training and Middle Managers. All the reports from the research can be read and downloaded on the ETF website at

The ETF commissioned BMG Research to undertake the research.

All reports can be found on the ETF Website.



1.     LDPs are generally smaller than ITPs, with LDPs tending to have fewer than 10 staff (83% – see Table 1). A majority of LDPs operate from one site only (78%) when compared to ITPs, particularly ITP Prime contractors. However, there are a minority who operate from multiple sites (see Figure 2). LDPs were more likely (17%) to be responsible for fewer than 50 learners over the year prior to the research than ITPs, particularly ITP Prime contractors (see Figure 3). Despite, this LDPs are less locally focussed than ITPs. Table 2 shows that, while around two-thirds of ITP prime contractors and sub-contractors have multi-regional or single region operations, only a third are nationally focussed compared with three-quarters (74%) of LDPs.

2.     In terms of demographics, individuals from LDPs were more likely to be from a BAME background. While the majority of respondents have a ‘white’ ethnicity (see Figure 9), this was less likely to be the case in LDPs, where there are more workers of Asian ethnicity (11%). The majority of respondents to the overall Training Needs Analysis were above the age of 45, this was particularly the case amongst respondents from LDPs with 38% from the 55-64 year old range (see Figure 10).

3.     Both the institutions’ and individuals’ surveys suggest that at least 8 out of 10 staff at LDPs received some training in the past year, in line with ITPs (see Figure 11). Responses from this survey suggest that 93% of individuals in LDPs, a marginally higher figure than the 89% from the institutions survey, reported that they received some training in the last year. Individuals from LDPs had, on average, 74 hours of training in the past year, compared to 52 hours for individuals in ITPs Prime Contractors (see Table 4). Where available LDPs training budgets (mean of £9,321) were typically smaller overall than ITP’s (mean of £22,087 for Prime Contractors) (see Table 14), but more was spent per member of staff (mean of £1,060 for LDPs compared to a mean of £761 for ITPs Prime Contactors) (see Table 15).

4.     The majority of LDPs (83%) and ITPs (Prime Contractors 70% and Sub-contractors 85%) consider their staff training budgets, where they have them, to be sufficient to meet their needs (see Figure 21). LDPs (54%) were much more likely than ITPs to believe that training had met all the needs of the organisation. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of individuals within LDPs agreed that they undertook all of the training and development they wanted or needed, while only around one in six disagreed (see Figure 24). Individuals from LDPs (19%) were less likely than those from ITPs (21% and 31%) to perceive the training they had received as being of little value, or as a ‘box ticking’ exercise (see Table 17). However, they were also less likely to agree that the training they received was of high quality (57% for LDPs compared to 73% from ITP Prime Contractors and 74% from ITP Sub-contractors).

5.     LDPs and ITPs saw deficiencies in the training provided by their organisations, these deficiencies were more-or-less equally related to the development of teaching skills, of leadership and management, and other types of training (see Figure 23). Table 16 shows that the most frequently reported deficiencies by LDPs are concerning governance, management and leadership skills (12%), and the application of digital and other technologies to teaching and learning (13%). Both LDPs and ITPs would welcome external support in developing their staff training and development activity, however, demand was lower amongst LDPs, with nearly half (45%) saying that no support is required or wanted (see Table 32).

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