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Welsh may offer bonuses to lure teachers of shortage subjects

PAY incentives for teaching shortage subjects and secondments from industry could be used to ease staffing problems in Welsh colleges New evidence of recruitment and retention probems was presented to the Welsh Assembly's lifelong learning committee on Thursday by fforwm, the association of Welsh FE colleges.

John Graystone, chief executive of fforwm, said: "The subject specialisms that are difficult to retain, more often than not, match those which are difficult to recruit.

He said it was time to consider "differential pay rates which favour shortage areas" as well as "secondments to and from industry, effective promotion to raise the image of colleges as employers and better terms and conditions of employment."

Recent research has confirmed the worst fears of the college sector in Wales. It is now highly dependent on part-time and casual staff: part-timers account for 49 per cent of the workforce compared with 43 per cent across the UK. The picture is expected to improve with the Assembly's announcement that it intends to achieve pay parity between college and school teachers.

But, despite this, fforwm believes more cash will be needed in some subject areas and short-term measures may be needed before the extra pound;9 million for pay is phased in - from April 2003.

The research says Welsh lecturers - of whom the 24 Welsh colleges employ 7,000 - are more likely to be qualified than their English counterparts - with 83 per cent of full-timers holding a certificate in education or higher award, compared with a UK figure of 62 per cent.

Low pay and management style are among the chief factors cited by new entrants to FE as being likely obstacles to developing a long-term career in colleges.

Colleges need more young staff. The survey found that nearly 60 per cent of full-timers are over 45 and have served more than 10 years. It was based on a questionnaire and focus group sessions coordinated by the Further Education National Training Organisation.

Gavin Thomas, Welsh development officer for Fento said: "FE colleges are faced with a massive challenge of replacing long-serving staff because 35 per cent of full-time teachers are over 51 years of age and 57 per cent are over 45.

"There are very few young teachers in FE. Most new entrants come in between the ages of 31 and 45."

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