While two negatives don’t usually make a positive, when it comes to the newly revamped Further Forces Programme, they may do just that. The programme, designed to connect ex-Armed Forces personnel with jobs in the Further Education sector, is a promising step towards tackling FE’s desperate shortage of STEM experienced candidates and the high levels of unemployment for ex-military personnel.
This dynamic new programme is a joint initiative of The Gatsby Charitable Foundation (an organisation that provides grants to science, engineering and maths education), the Ministry of Defence, the Department for Education, and the Education and Training Foundation (ETF).
The ETF and Gatsby are both thrilled to be a part of this programme, something that they designed to especially to address significant skills shortages in the FE sector. This is just one of several new initiatives that have been created in order to support existing staff in the industry and recruit new talent from outside the field.
Who is eligible for the Further Forces Programme?
This new programme is open to ex-Armed Forces personnel who don’t have degrees but who have relevant skills and experience in the Science, Engineering and Technology fields.
The pilot project is expected to run for about two and a half years. It will begin with the establishment of at least two recruitment hubs, likely one in the North of England and one in the South, with each training a maximum of 55 teachers.
Recruits will be “sourced” from within the MoD’s resettlement programme, and the hubs will work with local training providers to place them according to current skills gaps.
Individuals who meet the requirements will have the opportunity to receive training in Further Education and Teaching. Creators of the programme also hope it will help meet the “significant need for skilled managers” in Colleges resulting from the area review process.
What training will be provided?
Those who qualify through the Further Forces Programme will be awarded ‘Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS)’ status. The programme offers Initial Teacher Education tailored to need but will give the individual the Level 5 DET (Diploma in Education and Training.)
As is typical for FE teaching and training, the course will be delivered through mentoring and classroom experience. The first cohort is expected to finish their training by July 2018.
What makes the Further Forces Programme Exceptional?
The Further Forces Programme has been thoughtfully designed to benefit students, ex-military staff and the FE sector in general.
The ETF is contributing £550,000 towards the scheme and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation is providing an additional £300,000.
Key stakeholders in the scheme, the ETF, are ‘owned’ by the FE and training sector and count the Association of Colleges (AoC), the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), and the Association of Adult Education and Training Organisations (AAETO) as founding members. We believe having this powerful FE body working to develop the programme should boost its effectiveness.
Those behind the Further Forces Programme have also aimed to build on “lessons learned” from the Troops to Teachers scheme, a programme with a similar aim that has not worked as effectively as hoped.
Why should ex-military consider working in FE?
A second career in FE is an ideal opportunity for more mature individuals with valuable life skills and experience in the real world.
Often, Armed Forces personnel can have a hard time adjusting to life outside of the military. Many individuals struggle to leverage the unique set of skills that they acquired during their training into a career in the civilian world, and unemployment can be an issue.
The programme aims to give Armed Forces employees a series of good employment opportunities once they rejoin civilian life, recognising that those who have served in the military have a whole host of skills and proficiencies that make them ideal candidates to work in the FE field.
Only time will tell if the Further Forces Programme will reverse the problems found in past incarnations, but the hopes are high. Would you be keen to hire a former member of the military to work in your institution? Do you think that this programme will be a success? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.