Research and insight | NCFE

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Research and insight

Learning For Work Colleagues Working At A Desk (Resized)

NCFE was born in 1848 from the belief that no learner is left behind. Today, we’re taking up that cause with fresh energy to create a fairer education system that provides inclusivity and choice.

Here we provide key statistics, consultation responses, sector insights and research reports.

Whether we’re developing new qualifications and resources, harnessing deep insight through research, collaborating and investing to make a social impact, driving policy changes, or getting to grips with skills shortages – we’re focused on the key issues that will help ensure no learner is left behind.

The FE Collective Report

Published Tuesday 21 November 2023

The FE Collective report, in partnership with FE News, brings together the sector's views on artificial intelligence, investing in the future, and empowering learner progression. Explore the key takeaways from each of these areas and read the views from experts both inside and outside of further education.

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FE Collective report front cover

Sector Spotlight: Digital

Published Wednesday 25 October 2023

To mark NCFE’s 175th anniversary, we’ve created a new Sector Spotlight report exploring digital skills. Alongside skills gap and demand data, the report includes contributions from sector leaders Zoe Amar, Director of Zoe Amar Digital, and James Lane, Sector Manager for Digital, Creative and Design at NCFE, as well as insights from Gary Rogers, Associate Director of Tech & Digital at Northern Recruitment Group. 

By analysing data and bringing together leading voices, as well as hearing from those working on the frontline of their respective fields, we can begin to identify current and upcoming challenges, as well as potential opportunities.

Download the report 

Sector Spotlight: Digital front cover

Sector Spotlight: Early Years and Childcare

Published Wednesday 18 October 2023

To mark NCFE’s 175th anniversary, we’ve created a new Sector Spotlight report exploring the current and future skills challenges in early years and childcare. Alongside skills gap and demand data, the report includes contributions from sector leaders Louise Woodruff, Senior Policy Advisor at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Janet King, Sector Manager for Education and Childcare at NCFE and Lucy Lewin, Founder of Little Angels Uppingham.

By analysing data and bringing together leading voices, as well as hearing from those working on the frontline of their respective fields, we can begin to identify current and upcoming challenges, as well as potential opportunities.

Download the report 

Sector Spotlight: Early Years and Childcare report front cover

Sector Spotlight: Social Care

Published Wednesday 11 October 2023

To mark NCFE’s 175th anniversary, we’ve created a new Sector Spotlight report exploring the current and future skills challenges in social care. Alongside skills gap and demand data, the report includes contributions from sector leaders Oonagh Smyth, CEO of Skills for Care, Craig Wade, Head of Provider Development at NCFE, and Stephen Mordue, former social worker and now Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Sunderland. 

By analysing data and bringing together leading voices, as well as hearing from those working on the frontline of their respective fields, we can begin to identify current and upcoming challenges, as well as potential opportunities.

Download the report 

Sector Spotlight: Social Care report front cover

Sector Spotlight: Further Education

Published Wednesday 4 October 2023

To mark NCFE’s 175th anniversary, we’ve created a new Sector Spotlight report exploring the current and future skills challenges in further education (FE). Alongside skills gap and demand data, the report includes contributions from sector leaders David Hughes CBE, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), Michael Lemin, Head of Policy at NCFE, and Dr Sam Parrett CBE, Group Principal and CEO of London South East Colleges.

By analysing data and bringing together leading voices, as well as hearing from those working on the frontline of their respective fields, we can begin to identify current and upcoming challenges, as well as potential opportunities.

Download the report 

Sector Spotlight: Further Education front cover

Transforming Skills: A Call to Action

Published Friday 29 September 2023

Transforming Skills, a report by NCFE, Corndel and The Edge Foundation, sets out policy recommendations that, if taken together, could unleash a radically transformed skills system. The report considers the way we equip individuals for a new world of work and skills, before exploring how the system can adapt for a time of greater uncertainty and change. This session delves into the themes of the report, with participants given the opportunity to discuss how the ideas might work in practice, and how they fit alongside other calls for change, including AoC’s Opportunity England.

Download the report 

Transforming Skills report front cover

Good for ME Good for FE: Social Value Report 2021-2022

Published July 2023

Across the academic year 2021-22, Good for ME Good for FE mobilised the collaborative effort of staff and students at 140 colleges across the UK – two-thirds of all FE colleges. The campaign was further supported by charitable partners, including NCFE, who invested financially to help drive further social action throughout the sector. This report highlights the total social value created from fundraising, food items donated and local volunteering efforts by the colleges that took part.

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Good for ME Good for FE Social Value Report 2021-2022 front cover

Austerity 2.0 – A Lost Generation?

Published Friday 6 July 2023

Our latest report, "Austerity 2.0: A Lost Generation?", details the depth and breadth of the financial scars of the 2008 financial crash, and explores how the comparable shocks of Covid-19, Brexit, and the cost-of-living crisis will undermine a new generation of FE learners without urgent action from government. You can explore our key findings and our recommendations by accessing the report below.

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Austerity report front cover

The Valuing Enrichment Project: emerging findings and recommendations

Published Monday 12 June 2023

Our interim report in partnership with the Association of Colleges emphasises the importance of enrichment activities in empowering learners and promoting lifelong learning. The report highlights the need for enhanced funding and equal opportunities, with recommendations including a national strategy, dedicated funding, and evaluation criteria.

The Valuing Enrichment Project, led by the University of Derby, highlights the positive impacts of well-designed programs, including addressing skills gaps and contributing to learner progression. However, unequal access persists due to the lack of a consistent national entitlement and low prioritisation in education policy. Explore the key findings and recommendations by accessing the report below.

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Teaching Assistant Report 2023

Published Monday 15 May 2023

Our new report, "Perceptions of Teaching Assistants: Exploring the vital, specialist role of the Teaching Assistant for children and young people’s holistic education and wellbeing", provides insight from more than 150 active Teaching Assistants who answered survey questions about job security, whether they had considered leaving the profession, and if they felt they had the tools and resources required to effectively support learners with SEND.

The report follows the success of our recent All I Do campaign, which featured real Teaching Assistants reading out public opinions about the role, before challenging these misconceptions and celebrating everything they do for children and schools.

We're proud to release this in-depth exploration of this vital role, in which we also examine the wider perceptions of Teaching Assistants from over 120 individuals, including parents and carers. You can explore our key findings and our recommendations by accessing the report below.

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Our Social Impact Report 2022

Published Monday 3 April 2023

As an educational charity and leader in vocational and technical learning, NCFE exists to promote and advance learning to help create a fairer society for all – ensuring that no learner is left behind.

To drive our performance against this core purpose, we commissioned Motif – an independent research agency – to help create a Theory of Change model for us. Developing this model allowed us to map our activities to defined impact goals for those that we serve, including learners, institutions and educators, education systems, the sector, and the wider society and economy.

Following this, Motif undertook primary research with key stakeholders to deliver an assessment of our performance against these impact goals. The following report outlines this process, the research and our findings, exploring the impact that we’ve had as an organisation, as well as where we plan to build on our foundations moving forwards. You can access the report by clicking below.

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