Exclusive: Education cuts in Yorkshire put hundreds of lecturing jobs at risk

Caroline Rowley Regional Director for Yorkshire  of the Association of Colleges.

Caroline Rowley Regional Director for Yorkshire of the Association of Colleges.

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A BARRAGE of funding cuts is placing hundreds of teaching and lecturing jobs in Yorkshire at risk and undermining one of the region’s most successful education sectors, college and union bosses have warned.

Further Education colleges will see their adult education budgets dropping by 24 per cent from this September - resulting in course closures and redundancies across Yorkshire.

“At present adult education and training is effectively being decimated. These cuts could mean an end to the vital courses that provide skilled employees for the workforce such as nurses and social care workers.”

Unions say that more than 300 jobs have already been put at risk at Yorkshire colleges as a result.

Now college bosses are calling for greater recognition for the sector - especially in Yorkshire where 97 per cent of colleges are rated good or outstanding making it the most successful region in the country.

Background and infographic: Budget cuts ‘put success story of colleges at risk’

The Association of College’s regional director for Yorkshire Caroline Rowley is warning the Government that the sector should not be subjected to more reductions in funding ahead of Chancellor George Osborne’s emergency budget on Wednesday

She said: “What we are saying is that further education colleges are vital for providing people with the skills and helping them into work to ensure the economy can grow.

“At present adult education and training is effectively being decimated. These cuts could mean an end to the vital courses that provide skilled employees for the workforce such as nurses and social care workers.”

The Association of Colleges (AoC) has estimated that 190,000 adult learning places at colleges could be lost nationally next year alone as a result of the 24 per cent funding cut.

Health, Public Services and Care, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) could be among the hardest hit courses.

Last month the Chancellor George Osborne announced that the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) - responsible for further education - would need to save £450m as part of a raft of in-year savings amounting to £3bn across most government departments.

Ms Rowley said: “The Association of College has warned that adult education will not exist by 2020 if the Government continues cutting its skills budget.”

Spending per head of adult working age population on adult skills has halved in the last five years from £142 to £70 and colleges have seen a 35 per cent budget cut for adult education over the past five years.

Ms Rowley also highlighted concerns raised in a recent report that post 19 further education college courses could be cut further as part of the Government’s plan to create three million apprenticeship starts by 2020.

The report by Prof Alison Wolf said that the commitment to create more apprenticeships “seemed to be largely unfunded” and that it could be paid for by taking more out of college’s adult skills funds.

John Giddins, the regional branch organiser of the University and College Union said the current funding situation had led to “massive job losses and course closures in Yorkshire” as colleges grapple with 24 per cent cuts.

In recent weeks the UCU have been involved in talks over potential job losses at colleges in Barnsley, Bradford, Leeds and Sheffield.

Up to 146 jobs could go from Leeds City College as the college looks to make nearly £11m saving - though at least 100 people have opted for voluntary redundancy. The UCU says up to another 140 jobs could be at risk at Bradford College. There have been strikes in Bradford and Sheffield so far but industrial action at Barnsley College was called off last week after successful talks “aimed at improving job opportunities for staff at risk”.

Sheffield College has previously announced that it needed to making savings equivalent to 25 full-time posts as a result of a £3m funding cut.

A BIS spokesman said: “Further education colleges play a vital role in providing key skills for workers, employers and the country. We are working closely with colleges and businesses to help deliver 3 million apprenticeship starts by 2020. We will continue to focus investment in areas that have the most impact on increasing the skills of our workforce and help increase productivity across the county.”

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