THOUSANDS of people across Wearside and the North East could miss out on retraining for new jobs due to massive funding cuts, a college boss has warned.
The Skills Funding Agency has announced a 24 per cent cut to its funding for adult learning for 2015/16.
The £460million reduction nationally will lead to many adult education courses being lost.
Anne Isherwood, principal of Sunderland College, said: “This is going to have significant consequences, not only for people who will no longer have the opportunity to access relevant training, but it will also impact on businesses who rely on adult courses to upskill their employees, as well as the economy in general.
“Sunderland College has trained more than 35,000 people through adult learning funding since 2009, despite facing harsh cuts year-on-year.
“We have helped thousands of unemployed people to access training so they can find work, as well as offering training support to employees across a number of professions, which has in turn supported the region’s economic growth.
“This round of cuts, in addition to the general reduction in financial support for FE over the past six years, will place substantial pressure on all colleges, and will be detrimental to adult learners.”
In an unprecedented move, principals from 16 further education colleges across the North East, including Sunderland, South Tyneside, East Durham and New College Durham, have joined forces with union leaders to lobby publicly against cuts.
They have written to MPs asking for questions to be tabled in Parliament, and signed a nationwide petition led by the University and College Union (UCU) and students, and the business community are being asked to support the campaign.
The Association of Colleges’ chief executive, Martin Doel, said: “The fact that colleges in the North East have come together to campaign against the cuts demonstrates what a big issue it is for them.
“Adult education and training is effectively being decimated. It is too important to be lost, and these cuts could mean an end to the vital courses that train people in the North East, such as nurses and social care workers.”