Further education colleges in England offer a wide range of post-school education and training provision. Recently they have undergone major transformations that have resulted in considerable changes to the work of those teaching in them. In this paper we examine how cultures of learning and teaching in colleges are affected and how the nature of professional identity has changed. The paper considers the formation of professional identity amongst a group of trainee lecturers completing a one-year full-time teacher-training course at a university in the English Midlands. Lave and Wenger's work on apprenticeship to communities of practice is used to examine the effect of trainees' teaching placement on the development of professional identity. Rather than identifying effective processes of increasing participation in existing communities of practice, a strong sense of marginalisation and alienation amongst trainees was observed. The paper argues that this is detrimental both to trainees and experienced lecturers if they are to actively engage in building new forms of professionalism for the future.