The prospect of moving between employers to climb the career ladder can be frightening. The risk of leaving a job in which you are valued for one in which you are unknown is one many are reluctant to take. The result can be bottlenecks, with talented people stuck for too long in a job because they would rather maintain continuity of service than make the leap and follow their dreams.
In a recession, when risk of redundancy increases, this desire to stay put is all the stronger, and the prospect of jumping into the private sector even more daunting.
The good news from the Association of Colleges' survey (page 3) is that college staff are increasingly finding opportunities for progression with their existing employer. It shows that 40 per cent of today's college principals were appointed internally. This will be taken as a sign that initiatives, such as those run by the Centre for Excellence in Leadership which aim to develop managers, have succeeded in bringing on a generation of principals to replace the ageing fleet as it sails gracefully towards retirement.
With the professionalisation of lecturers - including teaching qualifications, Institute for Learning memberships and continuing professional development - it is certain that the opportunities for progression within further education will increase as the status of all staff is enhanced.
Those principals who have climbed up from the first rung of the ladder only did so because they were prepared to develop a portfolio of qualifications and skills.
Further education is about the relationship between the lecturer and the student. The faster the promotion routes, the more likely we are to have a generation of principals who can remember life at the chalkface by the time they land the big job. Tomorrow's principal is today's lecturer.