In an unprecedented move all 16 further education college principals in the North-East have united to oppose a 24 per cent cut in funding for adult learning announced by the Government.
They fear that thousands of people could lose the chance of retraining for new jobs because of deep cuts by the Skills Funding Agency, part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
The principals believe the £460m reduction, which follows five years of funding cuts for the further education sector, will result in many adult education courses being removed.
They will include employability programmes that the principals say are crucial in enabling unemployed adults to access the labour market and in tackling social and economic exclusion.
Vocational courses that develop the practical skills demanded by employers will also be affected, in sectors such as engineering, manufacturing, health and social care, and construction.
To illustrate the scale of the cuts East Durham College will lose £805,000 from its adult learning budget for next year while Darlington College will lose £755,000 and Bishop Auckland College will lose £650,000.
This comes at a time when the proportion of over-50s in the workforce is set to rise to a third of the workforce by 2020 (from 27 per cent at the moment) and 50 per cent of workers aged over 55 are proposing to work beyond the state pension age.
The principals have also written to MPs asking for questions to be tabled in Parliament and signed a nationwide petition led by the University and College Union (UCU) which has thousands of signatories.
The principals are also asking students and the business community to support the campaign.
The North-East FE colleges involved in the campaign are: Bishop Auckland College; City of Sunderland College; Cleveland College of Art and Design; Darlington College; Derwentside College; East Durham College; Gateshead College; Hartlepool College of Further Education; Middlesbrough College; New College Durham; Newcastle College; Northumberland College; Redcar and Cleveland College; South Tyneside College; Stockton Riverside College and Tyne Metropolitan College.
Natalie Davison, Principal of Bishop Auckland College, said:
“This will have a devastating impact on the communities we serve. It will stop unemployed people being able to access training to help them secure work, and hamper businesses wanting to improve the skills of their workforce in order to enable growth.”
Kate Roe, principal of Darlington College, said:
“At a time when we need to get more people of all ages into employment and help more people to access new training or improve their skills, we should not be cutting funding for adult skills.As a college we anticipated this 24 per cent cut and planned accordingly and we still offer a wealth of courses for adults. Even so, a reduction in funding of this size in courses across the Tees Valley will impact on both individuals and employers.”
They are being supported by the Association of Colleges, whose chief executive Martin Doel said:
“We’re living in an ever-changing society in which people do not keep to the same career path for their whole lives. These people need the options of returning to education or undertaking training.”
A BIS spokesperson said:
“We fully recognise the important role further education plays in getting people the skills they need to get on. That’s why we’ve committed more than £3.9 billion in 2015-16 to adult learning and further education.
“While total funding has been reduced, priority has been given the areas where the most impact can be made – apprenticeships, traineeships and support with English and maths.
“Many colleges and training organisations have responded well to the need to find other income streams for skills provision and it is this approach that will help them succeed.”
Last month Stockton-on-Tees based car parts manufacturer Nifco announced a £50m contract with Ford which has secured 350 jobs.
But engineering general manager Andy Dunn said:
“As a major automotive employer we are extremely disappointed to learn that there will be a 24 per cent cut in the funding of adult skills training in 2015-16.”
Source – Northern Echo, 24 Mar 2015
Are you out of work or in insecure employment?
We are currently making a series of short educational films for the Open University which examine change in British society since the Second World War and up to the present day.
We are interested in speaking to families whose older generations have previously worked in heavy industries such as coal mining, ship building and manufacturing, but where more recent generations have faced social and economic challenges accessing good jobs.
We want to hear about people’s lives and the challenges they face, but we also want to hear their thoughts and opinions on their opportunities, or the lack of them, in employment, education and housing.
The idea behind the films is that Open University students learn about the real impacts of social and economic policy on people’s lives.
If you think you may be interested in being involved then I’d like to arrange a chat on the phone as soon as possible. Please call me and I’ll call you straight back.
Michael Allpress, researcher
Evans Woolfe Media
Phone: 020 8744 1012
The number of advertised job vacancies grew by 3.1% between December 2013 and January 2014, with the total number of available jobs across the UK now at 768,104 and expected to exceed 800,000 by the end of February 2014, according to research by Adzuna.co.uk seen by the Welfare News Service (WNS).
The headline figure represent a 14% increase on this time 12 months ago and research suggests that the apparent rise in advertised job vacancies is at least partly due to a strengthening manufacturing sector, which now employs around 2.5 million people across the country.
> Although the the apparent rise in advertised job vacancies in my Jobcentre appears to be because there are so many self-employed, commission-based non-jobs.
In particular, significant growth in the UK’s car industry accounted for 10,012 advertised vacancies in January 2014 – triple the number advertised in January 2013 and experts predict that UK car production will reach record levels by 2017, creating even more jobs. The UK’s largest car manufacturer, Nissan, has started production on a new factory in Sunderland, providing jobs for more than 7,000 people.
> For some people. It’s generally understood locally that you have no chance at all of getting a job at Nissan if you’re aged over 30.
And we’d better hope that Nissan don’t decide they can make more profits elsewhere in the world and up sticks, thereby creating a domino effect amongst their suppliers.
I never feel putting all your eggs in one basket is a good idea, but it keeps happening. A few years ago, call centres were the way ahead for the region – until they decided to relocate overseas.
Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, said:
“Manufacturing will play a key role in the rejuvenation of the British economy. It will help to increase the productivity of the country’s labour force, and help us catch up with our overseas competitors. The Bank of England has cited that greater economic productivity is needed to validate wage expectations, and manufacturing is one of the key vehicles to drive this forward.”
He added: “While the booming car industry is fuelling vacancy growth around the UK, the real future of the UK’s manufacturing industry lies in new technology. Manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing could remove the need for many elements in supply chains, bringing large parts of production back to the UK and increase demand for skilled labour in the industry.”
Despite an increase in the number of available jobs in the UK, the North-South divide remains. Nine of the top ten cities to find a job in January were concentrated in the South, while seven of the worst ten cities to find a job were in the North.
Cambridge is the easiest place to find work, according to Adzuna’s research, where jobs outnumber jobseeker’s four to one. This is in stark comparison to the Wirral where an average 27.28 people are applying for each job vacancy in the city.
Andrew Hunter said:
“It’s vital that government initiatives attempt to bridge the gaping North-South split in the jobs market. Encouraging manufacturing will have a positive effect on the whole economy, but it could further separate North from South. The North is home to British car manufacturing, and a collection of Jaguar Land Rover production plants are based in the Midlands. But our high-tech manufacturing plants are clustered in the South, with Cambridge and Guildford two key epicenters. It is this type of highly skilled manufacturing which we are re-shoring back to Britain. Once again, it will be the South that benefits the most.”
> So, no change there then.
Unemployed people looking for work will welcome news that the jobs market appears to be improving. However, the news for salary levels isn’t as positive.
> More advertised jobs does not necesserily mean more good jobs. It might – from my personal experience as someone looking for work – just mean more non-jobs, part-time work and zero-hour contracts. Remove all those and what do your figures show then ?
I certainly haven’t noticed many jobs advertised in the car industry locally
The average advertised salary fell by 1% to a 17-month low in January 2014 and now stands at £32,011 per annum, according to Adzuna.
Figures show that wages have fallen 4.6% since January 2013, which in monetary terms equates to a drop of £2,181 in advertised salaries, Adzuna say.
Source – Welfare News Service, 27 Feb 2014
Blame the teachers time again –
Schools failing to prepare North East pupils for career in automotive sector
– declares the headline in the Newcastle Journal, and continues:
Schools are failing to encourage children to consider a career in manufacturing – and the economy of the North East may suffer as a result, a major new study has found.
Pupils in Sunderland are not being given the advice they need to make an informed choice about their future career, said think tank IPPR North, with girls in particular failing to consider careers in science, engineering or technology.
Researchers from IPPR North worked with two schools in the city to examine the attitudes of pupils towards a career in manufacturing, and particularly in the automotive sector.
As part of the study, they arranged for pupils to visit Nissan’s factory in Sunderland, and asked them whether this had changed their attitudes towards manufacturing.
The think tank warned: “Employment avenues for young people are not being closed off so much as never being opened. A systemic lack of interaction between schools and businesses is restricting the career options of young people in Britain.”
The failure to interest girls in science, technology, engineering or maths – the so-called STEM subjects – was robbing the sector of potential future employees, said the report.
> With such high levels of local unemployment ? Pull the other one ! There is probably going to always be be more people than there are jobs, so hardly a lack of potential employees. Many of them will already have the necessery skills, and if they haven’t they could learn them… if the employers were willing to invest in a little training, of course. But that would probably bite into short-term profits.
It warned: “The lack of interest in post-GCSE STEM subjects and vocational education among girls is a cause for concern given that skills shortages in these sectors are looming.”
IPPR focused on the automotive sector because of its importance to the economy of the North East – and it said there is “evidence to suggest the automotive sector would continue to grow in the coming years”, making it even more significant. Around 1.5 million cars and commercial vehicles and three million engines are produced annually in the UK, and 70% of vehicles manufactured here are exported.
> Hmmm… and its not so long ago that call centres were being touted as the big new thing. Which they may have been momentarily, but as soon as the companies found they could transfer the work to low-wage (and thus higher profit) economies overseas, you didn’t see them for dust. Anyone want to bet the automotive sector wouldn’t do the same if it was deemed profitable ?
Nissan’s plant in Washington is Europe’s most productive car manufacturing site, responsible for one in three of all cars produced in the UK.
> It’s also generally understood locally (but unprovable) that Nissan don’t employ anyone over the age of 30. Not much hope for the older unemployed there.
However, the think tank warned that manufacturers were concerned about the lack of available skilled labour in the UK, which could limit future investment in the country.
> People aren’t born with the skills for a particular industry fully formed. What’s wrong with the companies involved training workers to the required level ? They always used to.
It also pointed out that “pay tends to be significantly higher for graduate engineers than for most other graduates”, but young people considering their future career were not aware of this.
> But not everyone can be a graduate engineer, nor is that the only job in manufacturing. Perhaps kids realise this. Or perhaps they just think there’s more to life than selling their souls to an industry that may up sticks and move abroad if they think it in their interests.
The study warned: “Given the importance of both good careers advice and business-school interaction in shaping the choices that young people make, it is essential that Government, schools and businesses take action to plug future skills gaps and change the perceptions of those who might potentially be attracted towards careers in the automotive industry, and in engineering more widely.”
> School are like government training schemes – you might get a nice certificate, but it does not prepare you for the world of work. But why blame the schools, it’s not their role to provide factory fodder, surely ?
Once again we seem to be rushing to put all the eggs in one basket – mining, shipbuilding, call centres, automotive … in a year or two the same claims will be made again about the next transient industry, and all the unemployed automotive workers will be told they dont have the right skills and so must retrain…and so on ad infinitum.