From education to employment

Cuts and Office Closures Loom as 1,300 Jobs Go On The Block

The announcement from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) that it intends to cut some 1,300 jobs by June of next year has come in for heavy criticism from the union representing the workers whose jobs are now forfeit.

The announcement from the LSC has been cautiously welcomed by the Assocation of Colleges (AoC) and the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), who welcome the extra funding input into frontline services with the proviso that the estimated £40 million in savings will go to benefit the learners rather than evaporating.

But, although both of these organisations expressed their sympathy for those employees set to lose their jobs, the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union stated baldly that the development outlined by the LSC and cited as representing a “lighter touch” and more “strategic” approach by Rob Wye, the LSC’s Director of Strategy and Communications would do nothing less than “devastate” post-16 learning and skills development.

Cuts Will Cause “Disarray”

The PCS union, who represent more than 300,000 public sector workers, believe that the cuts will be particularly keenly felt at the organisation’s Coventry headquarters. Their spokesperson Mark Serwotka said that the cuts would weaken the delivery of the Government’s skills development package. “These cuts will bring devastation to the delivery of vocational courses, apprenticeships and adult learning, seriously undermining the Government’s skills agenda,” he said.

The announcement follows the loss of 800 jobs at the council in the past 18 months, and Mr. Serwotka fears for the future success of the council in its dealings with budgetary concerns. “These proposals will seriously damage the councils ability to administer and distribute its £9bn budget in a transparent and accountable way,” he said. And he warned that there would be “vigorous opposition” to the proposed cuts, including the possibility of strike action. He also raised the question of the cuts in the light of the Chancellor Gordon Brown’s speech to the Trade Unions Congress (TUC) in Brighton last Tuesday, saying that the axing of these jobs “further exposes the crude cost-cutting in key services by the Government.”

There are now more than 800,000 adults improving their basic skills through employer training skills now, as well as record numbers of apprentices and young people in learning. The Government’s avowed intention is to make sure that 100% of young people up the age of 18 remain in education of some kind, and to drive up basic skills level generally. With these job cuts coming only two months before the Further Education Review chaired by Sir Andrew Foster presents its findings, the debate over the future of Further Education has only just begun.

Jethro Marsh

A feather light touch, or far too light to be bright? Tell us in the FE Blog

Related Articles