Cash on tap for plumbers

Joe Clancy

Joe Clancy reports on how one-off payments are luring potential lecturers into colleges

One in five colleges offers "golden hellos" to lure plumbers, engineers and designers into teaching, research has revealed.

Up-front payments are among the perks colleges use to attract staff from industry and commerce, according to a new survey by the Institute for Employment Studies.

Half the colleges questioned said they offered cash incentives, including bonuses, performance-related pay deals and one-off golden hellos.

Two out of five colleges experience major difficulties recruiting staff, with low pay cited as one of the main reasons, says the survey.

Other reasons included "lack of required skills locally" and "requirement to have teaching qualifications".

Nearly 20 per cent of the colleges offered golden hellos, 7 per cent tempted would-be employees withbonuses and performance-related pay, 36 per cent offered teaching pay initiatives, and 50 per cent used other ways to enhance pay.

The employment studies institute questioned senior curriculum managers and human resources staff at 118 colleges.

Its report - Recruitment and retention of teachers with industrial or professional experience - was commissioned by the Learning and Skills Development Agency. Peter Davies, research manager, said: "Recruiting teachers with the right blend of experience and qualifications is essential. Teaching will always find it difficult to match salaries in the private sector, but the compensations are plenty.

"It is encouraging to see how some colleges are not only successfully recruiting the right kind of staff, but also taking steps to retain them through staff development and support."

Caroline Neville, director of learning at the Learning and Skills Council, said: "Recruiting teachers with relevant, up-to-date experience is vital to the LSC's commitment to improving the quality of provision."

Having lecturers with industrial or professional experience has become the norm in most colleges in at least 10 of the 14 learning areas, the survey suggested.

One college where golden hellos have been used as an effective recruitment tool is Darlington college of technology in County Durham.

Sue Harris, Darlington's director of learning, said golden hello payments of up to pound;4,000 were offered to lecturers when coming into their first teaching post from industry. She said plumbers and electricians were in particularly short supply in the North-east, but pointed to a vicious circle in dealing with the problem.

She said: "There is a strong regional skills shortage. We are trying to respond to the skills training need, but we have difficulty in recruiting plumbers and electricians to come into FE because they demand such high wages."

The golden hellos, she said, are payable to lecturers in shortage subjects who have worked at the college for one year and have either gained a teaching qualification or are working towards qualified teacher status.

Nearly four in 10 colleges had special recruitment measures aimed at staff with industrial experience in shortage subjects. These include open days, use of professional networks, advertising in the trade press and campaigns aimed at career-changers.

Stress, long hours, heavy workloads and difficulty in adjusting to a new occupation were given as reasons for problems with retention.

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