The government moved to raise the standards of teaching and management in further education colleges this week, announcing a compulsory professional training programme for all new lecturers and principals.
Baroness Blackstone, the further and higher education minister, said that from September next year, all new unqualified lecturers will be required to hold or work towards and achieve a recognised teaching qualification appropriate to their role.
She told delegates at the Further Education Funding Council's final annual general meeting in Birmingham yesterday that from 2002, new college principals will also be required to gain a new national professional qualification.
Existing lecturers may receive funding to take part in professional training under a scheme to be developed by the Learning and Skills Council, and a modular leadership programme will be introduced for principals.
Baroness Blackstone said that new unqualified full-time and fractional further education lecturers will be required to gain a university certificate in education or equivalent within two to four years.
Unqualified new part-time lecturers not on fractional contracts will be required to gain a City and Guilds teaching certificate within one to two years, depending on the level.
All of the courses will be based on standards that have been developed by the Further Education National Training Organisation (Fento).
Along with with lecturers' union leaders, Fento has been pressing for teaching in the sector to become "professionalised", and for the creation of a professional further education teaching body along the lines of the Institute for Learning and Teaching.
Baroness Blackstone said all further education teaching qualifications will be developed to cover the teaching of basic skills to a minimum level, as covered in the Fento standards.
From next year, lecturers employed to teach basic skills will be required to hold or work towards a specialist teaching qualification. Up to £80 million is to be invested from the funding council's standards fund next year to support the initiative.
Sue Berryman, further education spokeswoman for university and college lecturers' union Natfhe, welcomed the news, but warned that the policy needed to be backed with "substantial funding" over a long period.
"This also has a bearing on pay, since we would expect all lecturers to be paid according to the qualifications they hold," she said.