The IMI leads initiative backed by Education Minister to improve Further Education resources with Further Education Lecturer Reservists (FELR) model


Westminster roundtable debates collaborative initiative – using automotive as test-bed - designed to address dire shortage of Further Education lecturers

A roundtable was recently (24th April) held at Westminster to discuss a transformative approach to further education. The Further Education Lecturer Reservists (FELR) initiative will see professionals working in key STEM industries form a ‘Reservists’ group to bolster existing further education resources.

The roundtable, hosted by Chris Clarkson MP and chaired by Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education, Luke Hall MP, was attended by leading figures in education and policy including Robert Halfon MP, ex-Skills Minister.

Developed by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) and WMG at the University of Warwick, the initiative has also garnered support from the University and College Union (UCU) and the Association of Colleges as well as education providers, industry and combined authorities.  The model, initiated by Hayley Pells, Policy Lead at the IMI, and further developed with significant contributions from Dr Benjamin Silverstone, Associate Professor, Workforce Transformation Strategy and Policy at WMG at the University of Warwick, represents a major step forward in educational strategy.

Since the roundtable, the IMI’s foresight in taking the initiative on the gap in FE lecturers, was also discussed in the House of Commons (Monday 29th April) during Education questions  with Skills Minister, Luke Hall MP, acknowledging the innovative approach and committing to visiting the West Midlands pilot.

The IMI believes there is a need to create opportunities to provide specialist teaching capability in colleges in a way that is sustainable and that will be impacted upon less by shifting trends in employment and technology. Hence the development of the FELR as a structured, national framework aimed at enhancing the coordination and support among Further Education providers across the nation. And with a clear focus on the 23,000 vacancies currently in automotive, the IMI believes the fast pace of technological change and breadth of expertise required in the sector provides a strong test-bed for the FELR model across all industries.

Hayley Pells, Policy Lead at the IMI said: “In an era where dynamic careers and lifelong learning are not just aspirations but necessities, our proposal redefines the interface between industry and education. By introducing the Further Education Lecturer Reservists (FELR) model, we are crafting a visionary approach that enables professionals to impart their invaluable industry experience without foregoing their roles in the workforce. This initiative not only addresses the acute shortage of skilled lecturers, particularly in STEM fields, but also enriches the learning experience by ensuring that education keeps pace with the rapid advancements in technology and industry standards.

“Our proposal pivots away from traditional models that require professionals to leave their careers; instead it supports a dual engagement strategy that enhances their development while maximising their impact on the next generation of professionals. By fostering a flexible, collaborative ecosystem, we are not just filling an educational gap — we are propelling a movement that will shape the future of technical education in the UK, ensuring it is robust, responsive, and reflective of real-world needs.”

At the roundtable Skills Minister, Luke Hall MP, said he saw "massive opportunities" for the model's national expansion. Chris Clarkson MP, highlighted the model's innovative approach: "Hayley Pells has identified an excellent model, which Dr Silverstone has shaped into a viable national strategy.”  And Robert Halfon MP suggested bolstering the model with a “skills tax credit” to incentivise participation.

Dr Silverstone’s contribution at the roundtable was pivotal in emphasizing the need for "a structured process to create an expertise pipeline," a sentiment that resonates with the model’s objectives to streamline and enhance the quality of vocational training. This structured approach was echoed by Matt Tudor of Bridgewater & Taunton College, who stressed the importance of governance and recognition in these educational collaborations. The next step is for the initiative to be piloted in the West Midlands and South West.

The IMI produced its initial proposal regarding a FELR, August 2023 – it can be downloaded here
The briefing paper produced for the roundtable can be downloaded here

Employers interested in supporting the pilot projects can contact