According to the UK Government’s Strategy to Support Workforce Excellence in Further Education(FE), “Those who lead and teach in the further education and skills sector play a crucial role in serving people and employers in their communities and raising educational and skills level”.
However, the problem is that the further education (FE) sector is in desperate need of people, both for lecturer and classroom roles, as well as course management and technician roles. The over 50’s, with a whole career’s worth of invaluable experience, are the perfect demographic to fill in this gap in FE jobs, here’s why.
Experience in specific industries
AoC Jobs believe that FE colleges are in need of leaders from outside the sector. According to them: “business leaders from other industries will have very different experiences than those within further education, meaning their decision-making, understanding of priorities and fundamentals is very different.” They argue these characteristics will be ‘hugely beneficial’ for the sector.
There’s also a shortage of applicants for teachers in certain subjects, particularly maths, engineering, science and technology. Subject specialists are needed to fill FE jobs in these areas as they are best placed to properly prepare the students for what their potential future employer will be looking for.
Take maths for example, a 2014 Guardian article lamented the lack of real-life practice in education. Is the problem that we don’t have enough maths teachers and lecturers with industry experience? It could well be. In fact, research has found that only 10% of maths teachers 34 or under have a maths or related degree.
Experience in running teams and businesses
Unemployed people over 50 are less likely than any other age group to find work in the next year, according to think tank Policy Exchange.However, aren’t over 50’s, many of whom have years of leadership experience behind them, best placed to steer young people towards their future?
Teachers in FE have real opportunities to shape the curriculum and bridge the gap between education and employment. Surely experience of both these separate institutions is necessary.
Speaking in The Telegraph, Lotte Wright, assistant headmistress and housemistress at Sedbergh School in Cumbria, sums up the perfect skills for a leadership role in education. “Teaching is a career which needs people who are genuinely passionate about their subject and about enthusing young people. Those with experience in other industries have so much else they can offer in and out of the classroom, but passion and ability to deliver must come as the priority.”
An alternative to retirement
Over 50’s in FE jobs doesn’t just serve a vital role in an important educational sector, it can also offer a rewarding and challenging career pivot or even an alternative to retirement.
Between 2010 and 2014 the number of women over 50 who were unemployed rose by almost half, while the rise in unemployment overall was 1%. The people behind these statistics can seem cut adrift after working in their specific industries for decades, however a change is sometime exactly what you need. Over the years of work, over 50’s have built up a whole host of skills that are not only transferable to the education sector, but perfect for it.
According to Moneywise, the skills favoured in educational roles are a “familiarity with the national curriculum for your subject; enthusiasm, motivation, commitment and strong communication skills.” All these skills, plus the experience, leadership and knowledge gained by a long-career in a specific industry, makes the over 50’s among the ideal candidates for FE jobs.