From education to employment

The Sooner The Better for Merger, Say Sussex Enterprise’s David Rowland

In response to the decision to delay a decision on Post 16 Education in Hastings from the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), the Director of Business Services for Sussex Enterprises has called for swifter action from the Government.

At a time when the Skills Agenda is front page news, the decision by the DfES to await the result of further research before deciding whether or not a new college is to replace the sixth form provision of schools in the area was met with dismay by Mr. Rowland, who said of the decision: “The Government have side ““ stepped the urgency of this issue by delaying the decision to go ahead with plans to re-organise post-16 education in Hastings and Rother.”

Skills Shortage Hits Productivity

Mr. Rowland highlighted the problems that a skills shortfall can cause and he believes are causing in the area, saying: “The Hastings area needs action now if it is to dramatically improve its educational performance. Skills shortages across the whole of Sussex are having a huge impact on the productivity of local businesses because they simply cannot find the right level of skilled workers.”

Sussex Enterprises have been trying to put across this point for some time now, working hard to convince those in government of the need for reform to guarantee success in the local area. Mr. Rowland stressed this when he said: “In our Voice of Business survey for 2005, 80% of Sussex businesses who responded state that they are disappointed with the standard of todays school and college leavers. The Hastings area in particular is suffering from below average educational standards and therefore must be a priority for investment.”

Calling this project a potential “jewel in the crown” for the successful development of the potential of the area, Mr. Rowland said that both his organisation and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) Sussex would continue to work towards their goal. He urged the government to act soon in support of their initiative, saying: “We need action and support from central government to help us do this. We urge the government to give the go-ahead to this vital scheme sooner rather than later.”

The Latest in an Ongoing Saga

This is the latest instalment in a debate that has been raging for some time as local interests have clashed over the proposed creation of Mr. Rowland’s “jewel in the crown”. What is a fantastic development and an opportunity for improvement in learning and skills training provision in the area from his standpoint is for local principals Derek Greenup and Jenny Blackburn entirely less positive, as their schools of William Parker and Helenswood respectively would stand to lose their sixth forms.

The plan calls for the existing sixth forms in their schools to be placed under the control of Hastings College which would move to new premises in the centre of the town. The LSC Sussex, who provide the funding for all post 16 education in the area outside schools, are promised a long and hard battle if they want to move the sixth form allocation to Battle and Bexhill; it remains to be seen whether the schools will succeed in their bid to retain their sixth forms, or whether the LSC Sussex and the County Council will win the day.

Jethro Marsh

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