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Cuts to local further education colleges will undermine skills agenda

Severe cuts to courses and compulsory redundancies for staff in further education colleges will undermine the Welsh Government’s own skills agenda and leave many people with fewer employment options, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has said

Mr. Black was reacting to the announcement today that the Neath Port Talbot Group of Colleges is facing a cut of nearly 12%, which taking into account annual increases in costs, amounts to approximately a £4m cut in core funding. He understands that this could lead to dozens of redundancies and the loss of a number of full and part time courses.

Bridgend College has recently announced that it has a shortfall of £3 million next year, which will also mean staff redundancies and the loss of courses. They estimate that up to 60 jobs will be lost. 

In addition, Mr. Black has recently met with Trade Unions at Gower College Swansea, who told him that the institution faces a £5.3 million shortfall next year. They believe that this will result in reduced hours for A and AS Level Tutorials, fewer hours for part time staff, fewer course options and a large number of compulsory redundancies.

Commenting on the announcements, Mr. Black said: "The Welsh Government  decision to slash funding for FE College part-time courses across Wales by 50% cannot help but have a negative impact upon skills provision in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend, and therefore upon local businesses.

"These cuts are foolish, and counter-productive. Employers are looking for a skilled and work-ready workforce. That is something that Further Education can provide. These Welsh Government cuts are hitting a sector that is doing the most to enable people in work to increase their skills, and to enable people seeking to return to work to obtain the up-to-date knowledge they need to get a job.

"The economic well-being of our region, and indeed of Wales, depends crucially upon life-long learning. Our FE Colleges are major providers of this learning to young and old alike. Cutting the funding for part-time courses, and the talented and dedicated workers who provide them makes no sense. The Minister must think again."

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