The pandemic has driven more interest in, and take up of, the portfolio career – shows new research from the Department for Education. As the pandemic continues to shift attitudes towards work, 34% of people in West Midlands now hold multiple roles instead of one core job compared to before the pandemic (31%).

The research comes as the Department for Education launches a new national marketing campaign, calling for even more skilled workers to share their valuable expertise by teaching in further education (FE).

The campaign promotes the high value and transferability of industry skills and encourages workers to ‘change lives without changing careers’ by taking up a part-time or flexible FE teaching role alongside their current job.

The research also revealed the top factors that appealed to employed adults in West Midlands about portfolio careers, which included the variety of the work (35%), the opportunity to expand your skill set (28%), and the chance to work in different settings (23%). FE teaching does just this – allowing professionals to apply the skills and experience they’ve gained through years working in industry, whilst learning new skills at the same time. 

Industry professionals looking to take up a portfolio career can teach their trade, skill or subject in a wide range of FE settings without the need for a specific qualification. FE is primarily for learners aged 16+ and includes study that takes place after secondary school, for example in colleges or with training providers, but outside of a higher education institution. There are many unique benefits to FE teaching including:

-       You can start earning straight away and do funded training on the job

-       You can train the next generation of workers in your field, securing a strong pipeline

-       Part-time and flexible roles are available, meaning you can continue your career in industry alongside FE teaching

There is particular demand for skilled professionals from the following sectors to share their experience by teaching in FE: Construction, Engineering and Manufacturing, Legal, Finance, Accounting and Digital/IT, Health and Social Care - with opportunities on offer for industry professionals to share their knowledge and help equip learners with the practical, career-focused skills to prepare them for work.  

When asked about starting a portfolio career, 20% of respondents in the West Midlands revealed a main driver for this decision was a desire to do something different, and 12% wanted to learn something new. FE teaching offers an opportunity for professionals seeking a change to their working lives whilst remaining in their chosen field, with part-time and flexible roles available so they can continue working in industry, and the opportunity to start earning straight away and train on-the-job.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “There are a huge number of industry professionals that already hold the knowledge and skills to make them a great Further Education teacher.  We want to encourage those with industry experience to share their skills to inspire and train up the next generation of workers in their field. I’ve seen first-hand the transformative effect that outstanding FE teaching can have, so I would encourage anyone looking for a new challenge to find out more about stepping into this rewarding career.”


Helen Tupper, Co-founder & CEO of Amazing If and author of The Squiggly Career said, “There is no one-size fits-all version of a ‘successful’ career and portfolio careers give people freedom and flexibility to try different careers to get what they need from work. They help people to develop and demonstrate skills in different settings, expand their network and accelerate their learning. 

Deciding to teach your current profession by including FE teaching as part of a portfolio career is an excellent way to make the most of existing expertise whilst trying something new, and can also increase people’s sense of purpose, increasing their happiness at work over the long-term.”

Dave Love is Assistant Director of Apprenticeships & STEM at Warrington and Vale Royal College. David first became an FE teacher as part of a portfolio career, Dave said: “I decided to try teaching Electrical Installation part time in an FE college whilst I ran my electrical business. It was so simple to get started – I was able to start earning and teaching straight away using the skills I had from industry. I could train on the job and had a mentor at the college to support me.

“It was incredible to see the reaction of the students – they really valued the real life stories and experience I could share from my own work in electrical installation. There’s nothing as rewarding as seeing the ‘penny drop’ when you’ve helped them grasp a new skill.

“So after a year, I switched into teaching at the college full time. There’s so many different subjects and courses in FE. If you want to use the experience you’ve already gained throughout your career to inspire the next generation, then I’d encourage you to see if there’s an FE teaching job near you to match your skills.”

The Teach in FE campaign launches on audio, video on demand, partnerships and social media on Thursday 20 January 2022.