CPD and job insights go together
All the evidence is that colleges are much more pro-active in learning about business than businesses are about familiarising themselves with further education. Yet the myth persists in some quarters that lecturers are reluctant to become acquainted with what some refer to as the "real world".
The New Engineering Foundation's secondment programme (page 3) proves lecturers' enthusiasm for updating their knowledge of the workplace. What has been lacking is the opportunity to do something about it.
Bill Rammell, the further and higher education minister, spoke at the ceremony and congratulated the new NEF fellows who had completed industry secondments. Hopefully, he will have gone away with the thought that the new requirement for 30 hours a year of continuing professional development and the demand for industry placements are things which go together.
Much of lecturer training and CPD will, out of necessity, be about processes, but the new emphasis on more professionalism will be wasted if it does not include placements with the types of business which will receive job applications from the lecturers' students.
The NEF's newest fellows are part of the future of a more responsive FE system in which passion for knowledge is satisfied by direct understanding of current skills needs.
With many vocational lecturers having qualified in a trade before going on to work in colleges, gaining teaching qualifications and then completing industry placements, they are arguably becoming the most highly-trained teachers in the education system.
This being so, it will be increasingly difficult to sustain the pay gap between FE lecturers and schoolteachers, particularly as they play a greater role in 14-16 education.