Survey of Further Education College Leavers Report published

Date published: 05 November 2020

The Department for the Economy has today published the following research report: Survey of Further Education College Leavers: Academic Year 2018/19.

Survey of Further Education College Leavers: Academic Year 2018/19.
Survey of Further Education College Leavers: Academic Year 2018/19.

This report presents findings from the sixth annual Northern Ireland Survey of Further Education (FE) College Leavers. Undertaken approximately six months after course completion, it provides a snapshot of the immediate added value to leavers of completing and achieving a regulated qualification at Level 3 or below in the FE sector during the academic year 2018/19.

Key points:

  • Over half (50.2%) of FE College leavers who qualified at Level 3 or below were in employment six months after achieving their 2018/19 qualification, up from 47.4% before their course began; the proportion in learning also rose from 37.0% to 39.1%.
  • When asked to give the most important reason for doing their course, FE College leavers were most likely to say: ‘I thought it would improve my career prospects’ (23.2%); ‘I wanted to learn something new / gain new skills’ (15.8%); or ‘I was interested in the subject’ (15.2%).
  • Two-thirds (65.4%) of leavers agreed that, were they to do their course again, they would be unlikely to study at a different FE College.  Over half (51.3%) said they would be unlikely to study a different subject, while 55.0% would be unlikely to do a different kind of qualification.
  • Employment rates for FE College leavers varied depending on subject area studied. The subject areas with the highest proportions of FE College leavers in full-time employment were Construction, Planning and the Built Environment (73.6%), Business, Administration and Law (62.8%) and Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies (54.7%).
  • The subject areas with the lowest proportions of FE College leavers in employment were History, Philosophy and Theology (9.7%), Social Sciences (13.6%) and Arts, Media and Publishing (16.3%); however, these subjects had some of the highest proportions of leavers in further full-time study.
  • Typically, unemployment rates were lower for those qualifying at higher levels.  One-eighth of those who had studied at Entry Level or Level 1 were unemployed (12.5%), in contrast to 3.9% of those who had studied at Level 2 and 2.9% of those at Level 3.

This report, along with tables (including notes and technical details), an executive summary and infographic are available to download from the Department’s website.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The destinations of those qualifying at Level 4 or above are researched separately, through their participation in HESA’s Graduate Outcomes survey some 15 months after achieving their qualifications.
  2. For media enquiries, please contact the DfE Press Office at pressoffice@economy-ni.gov.uk 
  3. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110. 
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