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A new collaborative approach to simplify workforce data collection in further education

19 June 2019

Three key organisations in Further Education (FE) have today (Monday) announced plans to work together to collect workforce data from FE Colleges. This will provide improved consistency, reliability and credibility in the sector’s workforce data alongside reducing the burden on college administrators. The Education and Training Foundation (ETF), the University and College Union (UCU), and the Association of Colleges (AoC) had previously all separately collected similar data from colleges on staff numbers, terms and conditions, and pay. This has been through the ETF’s Staff Individualised Record (SIR), the UCU’s Freedom of Information (FOI) requests and the AOC’s annual workforce survey. This type of workforce data will now be collected once a year through the SIR. The annual data collection starts on 1 August 2017 and will be shared with the organisations that take part in November. Colleges that participate in the SIR will no longer be asked for the information on staff numbers and pay through separate annual UCU FOI requests. The three organisations believe that collecting a single dataset of reliable and robust workforce data in the FE sector will significantly reduce the administrative burden on colleges, and increase the integrity of the data available. Jointly signed letters will be sent to Principals and Chief Executives explaining the changes which they can approve the sharing of data through the ETF’s SIR Data Insights portal. David Russell, Chief Executive of the Education and Training Foundation, said: “We all have a shared vision in transforming Technical Education and an understanding that the sector’s workforce is absolutely crucial to achieving this. The fact that we will now have a single source of high quality, credible and consistent information, managed by the ETF, shows the continual growth in collaborative working across the sector. This research approach can only be good for ensuring there is more informed support and understanding of the workforce, which in turn will lead to better outcomes for the country’s learners. Sally Hunt, General Secretary of the University and College Union, said: “UCU proposed a collaborative approach to data collection because credible and consistent data on staffing is essential if we are to respond to the current challenges the sector faces. UCU welcomes working together with the ETF and AoC on this initiative. We believe that having better data can only improve the sector’s efforts to ensure appropriate funding from government, and therefore improve the education we provide to its learners.” David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “We need one single source of FE data from which government, stakeholders and representative bodies can draw reliable information - and we need to reduce the administrative burden on colleges to enable them to focus resources on teaching and learning."