Education, Learning & Skills Research

Ensuring that the UK has a population with the right skills, competencies and qualifications is vital if we are to compete, succeed and prosper in the modern global marketplace. To this end, we help our clients understand:

  • How skill needs are changing
  • The challenges employers face recruiting the staff they need
  • The extent to which the current workforce lack skills or require upskilling
  • The education and learning experiences of pupils and their parents, apprentices and other learners, and employers
  • The experiences and views of teachers, schools, colleges and education/training providers
  • Awareness of, engagement with, and the impact of policy and programmes such as Apprenticeships, T-Levels and ESOL

We deliver robust research solutions, tailored to help our clients (whether central or local government, sector / trade bodies, providers or others) make better informed decisions to support the development of a strong, flexible, responsive labour market.

How we help

Employer skills surveys

From large-scale, sector-wide, pan-UK studies, to smaller, sector-specific, regional or occupation-specific studies, we can help you assess such issues as: the perceived work readiness of education leavers, the difficulties employers face when recruiting, the extent to which employers consider their workforce to lack skills, the occupational groups most affected, and the nature and impact of these skills gaps, the extent to which employers are investing in training, and their views on the quality of training provision.


Our evaluation experts can help you understand the effectiveness and impact of existing policies and programmes, supporting better decision-making and effective delivery.

Learner experience & destination studies

We can help you better understand the experience of learners, and monitor the impact of education and training and how this could be improved. Our experience ranges research among schools through to further and higher education, adult learning and work-based training.

Some of our recent projects

  • The Employer Skills Survey 2019 for the Department for Education (DfE). A large-scale telephone survey of over 81,000 employers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland examining their skills needs and training activity. IFF has led this biennial study since 2011. We are currently undertaking the 2022 UK Employer Skills Survey for the DfE and the Devolved Administrations.
  • The Scottish Employer Perspectives Survey 2021 for the Scottish Government. This was a large-scale telephone survey of 1,000 employers in Scotland, examining their perceptions of new recruits (including education leavers), their engagement with training providers, and their offering of work placements and apprenticeships. We also conducted the survey in 2019.
  • Migration and Construction 2020 for CITB. This is the third time IFF has undertaken this study, exploring the use of non-UK workers in the sector and preparedness for the new points-based immigration system. The 2020 study has involved qualitative and quantitative interviews with employers and recruitment agencies.
  • Heat Networks Skills Review 2020 for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). This study exploring the skills needs of the UK Heat Networks sector, involved a literature review and skills mapping exercise, 25 depth interviews and 3 workshops with energy and engineering companies, consultants, local authorities and training providers.
  • Apprenticeship Evaluation 2021.A large-scale quantitative study for DfE on the experiences and views of over 4,000 employers and 5,500 apprentices.
  • The School Snapshot Survey for DfE. This is a twice-yearly survey which gathers views from senior leaders and classroom teachers in state-funded primary and secondary schools on topical issues (e.g. curriculum, mental health, workloads, pupil behaviour, bullying)
  • Longitudinal Study of Local Authority Social Workers for DfE. This five-year study is exploring the influences on recruitment and retention of local authority child and family social workers aspects of such aspects as job satisfaction, access to learning, and workloads. Over 5,500 child and family social workers took part in the Wave 1 survey (one in six of England’s workforce).
  • The Construction Employer Panel for CITB. We completed the 21st wave of this in 2021. The study, first conducted by IFF in 2005, explores topical issue in the sector. The recent wave involved 30 depth interviews and a telephone survey of 1,500 employers. It explored business challenges, the extent and nature of skills shortages, the impact of COVID-19 on the business overall and on productivity, training and working practices, recent and planned recruitment of apprentices, and labour market changes (including staff turnover).

Why choose IFF?

Unrivalled policy understanding

IFF has been deeply involved in research on education, training and skills for over 25 years.

high level of senior involvement

with two directors overseeing every project you can enjoy peace of mind, confident that the research is designed, conducted and analysed by learning and skills experts, for results with impact.

Large, experienced research team

We have 30 research staff in the education, learning and skills team, meaning researchers with specific expertise will be assigned to your project.

Our clients

“The report is an excellent piece of work and is very clear on the main points and key findings”

Jonathan Pipe, Research Analyst, CITB

Case Studies

To find out more

For more information about our education, learning and skills research, please complete the contact form to contact our director, Mark Winterbotham, to discuss your specific needs.