THE ASSOCIATION of Colleges is conducting a series of regional conferences to consult its members on pay.
These will feed into its negotiations with the unions when the conferences are completed in mid-June and the AoC says it is on target to reach a deal in mid-July.
Ivor Jones, employment policy director at the AoC, was at one of the regional conferences in Torquay this week, and said the results will be made public.
He said the main negotiations with the unions, through the joint working party on pay, have been going well and there has been constructive dialogue between the AoC and individual officers of Natfhe.
He said: "We have had really constructive discussions with the unions. What I am doing with the regional conferences is to go through a consultation exercisse with our members (the colleges) to find out exactly what they need."
He says this exercise could reduce the number of colleges which fail to carry out any agreed pay deal.
The AoC acknowledges that pay levels need to be improved to tackle the ongoing recruitment and retention problems in colleges.
But he says the unions have to accept the reality of incorporation of colleges, even though their independent status will allow them to refuse to implement any pay deal.
He said: "Colleges are independent institutions. Previous funding methodologies and the present funding methodology reinforce their positions.
"They have contracts with local LSCs and they have different levels of performance. So the affordability of pay increases is going to be variable around the country. That position isn't going to change."