Inadequate funding and a skills and qualifications shortage are fuelling a staff recruitment crisis in further education, a national study has found.
Colleges face significant problems recruiting qualified lecturers and filling management posts with staff who have the right mix of skills and experience.
The problem is likely to hamper colleges' ability to meet the government's national training targets, a report on the findings from the Further Education National Training Organisation (Fento) says.
Fento predicts the crisis could grow as older staff retire. Over a quarter of the sector's workforce is over 50.
The survey found that a quarter of colleges had "major difficulties" recruiting course leaders and managers. About 10 per cent said they had had to accept management recruits who were recognised as weak.
Nearly 7 per cent were unable to recruit heads of school or department.
There were widespread difficulties recruiting qualified lecturers, with a tenth of full-time and more than a quarter of part-time lecturers not qualified to teach.
Over a fifth of colleges said they were completely unable to recruit engineering lecturers, and more than a tenth had the same problem in IT, sciences and basic skills.
Colleges cited insufficient funding to offer attractive salaries and a shortage of qualifications and experience as the top two causes of recruitment problems.
The report says: "It is virtually inevitable that, in these circumstances, standards do fall."