Survey of Further Education College Leavers Report published

Date published: 26 October 2021

The Department for the Economy has today published the following research report: Survey of Further Education College Leavers: Academic Year 2019/20.

Headline results from the 2020 Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry (ABI) survey.
Headline results from the 2020 Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry (ABI) survey.

This report presents analysis of the seventh 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 FE College leavers of completing and achieving a regulated qualification at Level 3 or below in the FE sector during the academic year 2019/20.                                                                                                              

The key points are:

  • More than four-tenths (43.6%) of FE College leavers who completed a qualification at Level 3 or below were in employment six months after achieving their 2019/20 qualification, up from 40.9% before their course began; the proportion in learning fell slightly from 43.1% to 42.0%.
  • Linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, the proportion in employment (43.6%) was lower than that for the 2018/19 cohort at the equivalent stage (47.7%) and included 2.9% who were on furlough.  In addition, the unemployment rate (7.7%) was higher than for those who qualified in 2018/19 (4.0%).
  • 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’ (21.9%); ‘I was interested in the subject’ (17.3%); or ‘I wanted to learn something new / gain new skills’ (15.6%).
  • Over five-sevenths (73.3%) of FE College leavers in employment said the course had prepared them well for employment.
  • 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 (62.6%), Business, Administration and Law (55.3%) and Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies (51.5%).
  • The subject areas with the lowest proportions of FE College leavers in employment were Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Care (8.8%), History, Philosophy and Theology (11.5%) and Social Sciences (13.5%).
  • Typically, unemployment rates were lower for those qualifying at higher levels.  One-sixth of those who had studied at Entry Level or Level 1 were unemployed (15.6%), in contrast to 8.5% of those who had studied at Level 2 and 4.7% 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.

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