Courses postponed and jobs at risk as Tory cuts hit adult education

Minehead ‘Skills and Learning’ centre

Labour is calling on the government to reverse a drastic cut in funding that is threatening the future of adult education and vocational training in Somerset. People due to start courses this month have been told they won’t be going ahead as planned and there are fears that trainers could lose their jobs.

 The courses affected are community-based classes  run by SS&L -formerly Somerset Skills and Learning. A statement on its website says:   “Due to government funding cuts we are not accepting course enrolments at this time.”

Somerset Skills and Learning was part of Somerset County Council until 2015, when it was floated off as an independent not-for-profit company.  Just two years on, it appears to be struggling to survive. The cut by the Education and Skills Funding Agency means it has lost 40 per cent of its budget.

The Labour leader on Somerset County Council, Leigh Redman, said:

Leigh Redman Labours group leader at county

“The news that SS&L has suffered this huge cut is shocking. Somerset is the only county to have lost its funding for community based courses. If  SS&L ceases to be viable as a result of this cut,  apprenticeships and skills training that people need to get jobs could  be the next to go.

“Adult education and training  for young people are vital services and it will be a scandal if people lose out because the government is withdrawing money.  Somerset Skills and Learning had a good record in providing education and training in the county. The government must ensure that this service continues.”

The West Somerset Labour Party chair, Maureen Smith, said:

Maureen Smith, Chair of West Somerset Labour

“This will be a blow to many people who were expecting to attend classes in the new academic year. It seems that Somerset is the only county in the country to have lost funding on this scale.

“This is a consequence of the decision by Conservatives on the county council to out-source this important service. When Somerset Skills and Learning became a separate company, we  were assured that its service would continue. But just two years later, courses are being postponed and the future of the whole organisation must be in doubt.  The loss of SS&L would be a severe setback to the  current plans for the economic regeneration of Minehead. ”

Kathy Pearce
Cllr Kathy Pearce

Sedgemoor Labour councillor Kathy Pearce said:

“This is a massive, short sighted cut. SS&L has been a really accessible way of improving knowledge and learning at affordable prices. It deserved to be better promoted – not cut.”

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Victoria Tait
Victoria Tait
6 years ago

This centre is very important for me. Over the years I have done many courses and have benefited from these courses in so many ways. I have learned computer and literacy skills, and also arts and crafts courses. Also I have done courses in counselling linked with my having suffered from depression. In many ways crafts such as pottery and drawing are only available in this area through this centre for many people like myself. Also I am a bit isolated, living in a small town with no car, so i get out and about and meet different people through this centre. I think i would be a real tragedy for this area of Somerset if this centre was to close down. So many opportunities would be closed to people if thus centre was to close down. At the moment I am enrolled on the popular pottery model making course, and I enjoy this course very much. As I can not afford to buy the equipment for pottery, this course allows me to make models and fire them whereas I would not be able to do this myself. I hope this centre remains open.

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