Staff say Falkirk-based college can’t take any more

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Union representatives at Forth Valley College in Falkirk believe there will be no redundancies in the next year following the publication of the Scottish budget yesterday.

The college saw 62 people lose their jobs - 42 due to voluntary severance and 20 through compulsary redundancies - over the past year as part of austerity measures to cut costs.

Despite a record number of applicants, Scottish colleges have seen a drop of seven per cent in staff, which is above any other public sector area.

Speaking yesterday Billy McChord, secretary of the Forth Valley branch of Educational Institute of Scotland Further Education Lecturers’ Association, who lectures at the college, said some departments were working on skeleton staffs to ensure students finish their courses.

He said: “Given the fact that sixty-plus employees have left Forth Valley College through a combination of voluntary severance and compulsory redundancies resulting from the 10.4 per cent cut in last year’s Scottish Funding Council budget, the Forth Valley EIS FELA branch certainly does not anticipate any further reductions in frontline services as a result of today’s Scottish Parliamentary budget.

“We would seriously question how sustainable the current range of courses offered by Forth Valley College would be, should there be further cuts.

“Our construction department has already been subjected to staff cuts and the motor vehicle section has been all but wound up.”

Forth Valley College said it was too early to comment on exactly what effect the Scottish Spending Review will have and reserved comment until it could examine the publication.”

However, Falkirk East MP Michael Connarty has expressed his concern.

He said: “There’s been nearly 70 redundancies at the college so far and part of the building trades department has closed down completely.

“But there are hidden cuts everywhere, not just in further education. The classroom helper who helps a disabled boy in my granddaughter’s class is gone as well.

“As far as unemployment goes, it’s youths who are taking a hammering. I know of companies who are simply just not taking on apprentices any more to save money. It’s quite worrying.”

As part of the spending review the Scottish Government said it will “reluctantly” raise employee pension contributions for teachers, NHS, police and fire workers, with protection for the low paid.

Finance Secretary John Swinney also said it will deliver 125,000 modern apprenticeships. He added: “The Spending Review confirms our support for every 16 to 19-year-old in Scotland not in work, part of a modern apprenticeship or in education is offered a learning or training opportunity.”