Working with apprentices? Survey shows it'll cost you

20th April 2012 at 01:00
Staff in work-based learning earn up to pound;10K less than FE peers

Teaching staff working with apprentices can expect to earn up to pound;10,000 less than their colleagues in FE colleges, according to the most comprehensive survey yet of staff in work-based learning.

According to the joint survey by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service and the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), more than two-thirds of teachers in work-based learning earn less than pound;25,000. Nearly a third earn less than pound;20,000.

This puts the majority of staff, who mostly teach the government's flagship apprenticeships programme, at about entry level for a qualified teacher in an FE college, which currently stands at pound;23,382.

While a direct comparison is difficult, as the figures for FE teachers include staff with some managerial responsibilities, in 2010 the average college lecturer was paid pound;34,600. The University and College Union (UCU) estimates that about 60 per cent of college lecturers are at the pay grade of pound;33,000 and above.

The picture of the workforce created by the survey results suggests explanations for why this part of the FE sector is lower paid.

Its teachers are generally younger: only 34 per cent are over 45, compared with half in the whole of FE. They also tend to have relatively low qualifications: 47 per cent only have qualifications at level 3, A-level equivalent, or below. While 21 per cent are qualified at honours degree level or master's level, the overall qualifications base could represent a barrier to the government's ambitions for expanding higher level apprenticeships.

About three-quarters of staff in work-based learning were qualified teachers or working towards the qualification, however. No distinction was made in the survey between assessors and those with a teaching role, which could account for some of the pay gap.

With 73 per cent of staff in the survey working for private training providers - and most of the remainder at subcontractors or the voluntary sector - a UCU spokesman said that the majority of its members were in colleges and were not generally recognised among work-based learning providers. Rates of pay had to be factored in to the current debate about the quality of apprenticeships, he said.

"It's effectively at least pound;10,000 difference in broad terms. There is an ongoing problem that low rates of pay have a major impact in terms of attracting quality staff," the spokesman said. "I'm not trying to suggest that there aren't quality staff there, but a lot of staff will feel pressure on them to move to get other employment."

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the AELP said that witnesses at the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee this week had agreed that the issues with quality were "at the margins", affecting only a small number of providers, and that 70 per cent of apprenticeship provision was good or outstanding.

"The cost structure of work-based learning is very different to a single- site college," he said. "A lot of providers service multiple employers across a wide area, so the costs are split between wages and transport."

Perhaps surprisingly, given that training providers might have a greater need to be flexible to meet the demands of industry, in some respects employment in work-based learning seems to be more stable than in colleges. Full-time work predominates, accounting for 82 per cent of teaching staff. In colleges, less than half the teaching workforce is full-time. Those in work-based learning who are part-time are mostly on fractional contracts.

The survey noted that part-time contracts were expected to increase, but so far work-based learning had bucked the trend.

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE

pound;25k - 62 per cent of staff in work-based learning earn between pound;15,000 and pound;25,000

pound;35k - Qualified college teachers earn between pound;23,000 and pound;35,000

50k - The survey estimates that 35,000-50,000 staff are employed in work- based learning

64% are women

92% are white

42% teach numeracy, literacy, basic skills or ICT

9% teach science, technology, engineering or maths.

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