Research Into the Use of Industry Associates in Further Education

8 February 2023 Jenifer Burden

Research by York Consulting LLP shows the valuable role of Industry Associates to augment and complement teaching across further education (FE) provision. Many FE providers work with Industry Associates in a range of ways, although challenges exist to maintain current practices and to further develop this beneficial engagement.

Research Into the Use of Industry Associates in Further Education

Our FE teaching workforce is crucial for the provision of strong technical education across the country. Teachers draw on their underpinning subject knowledge, industry skills and teaching expertise to offer a curriculum that builds students’ knowledge, skills and confidence.

There is growing evidence that, in a competitive labour market, recruitment and retention of teachers is increasingly difficult for FE providers. Alongside maintaining their core of well-prepared teaching staff, providers also work to incorporate current industry practice in their curriculum on an ongoing basis.

In 2022, Gatsby commissioned York Consulting LLP to gather evidence about how FE providers work with employers to engage Industry Associates in their curriculum delivery. The research was undertaken through an online survey and round-table discussions with FE staff.

The term ‘Industry Associates’ is used to describe individuals who work in industry, and also contribute to technical education teaching through, for example, co-delivery of a session, masterclasses, or delivery of short elements of the curriculum. Most survey respondents noted that Industry Associates offer ‘specialist curriculum input and…up-to-date industry expertise’. Additionally, over two thirds agreed that they increase student engagement.

While Industry Associates may not hold teaching qualifications, FE providers have varied ways to support them as they work with students. For example, some organisations have processes for Industry Associates to undertake short pedagogy training sessions, and they may deliver alongside teaching staff who are responsible for curriculum planning, classroom management, and teaching support.

The benefits both for employers and for students’ learning demonstrates the important role that Industry Associates play in technical education, and highlights the potential for further work to support employers in enabling their staff to be Industry Associates, and to ensure they are well-prepared and confident to move into this role.

A summary report of the findings is available here.

Research Into the Use of Industry Associates in Further Education