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College cuts to hit adults worst: Dean; People looking to retrain will suffer, warn officials.

Byline: David James

ADULTS wanting new skills and qualifications will be hardest hit by cutbacks in further education courses, a South Wales college dean has said.

John O'Shea of Merthyr Tydfil College spoke out yesterday following a wave of announcements from colleges and universities about courses being abandoned as institutions face budget problems.

He warned that adult education would be hardest-hit - blighting the hopes of newly redundant people wanting to learn new skills to help them in the increasingly competitive jobs market.

Mr O'Shea said: "We will continue to prioritise 16-19 provision, because that is where the funding priority is - inevitably this means we are not as able as we would wish to deliver new courses for the expanding 19-plus population that is looking for new skills and qualifications."

The sector has warned of a "lost generation" of young people if the recession robs them of both employment and training.

Effects of the most recent cutbacks include Barry College revealed in research by Conservative Shadow Education Minister Paul Davies.

He described the situation as a "a shocking indictment of Assembly Government complacency, underfunding and skewed priorities".

The University and College Union has warned that 400 jobs are at risk across the sector.

In April, the Assembly Government announced an extra pounds 8.9m for further education institutions and sixth forms.

Mr Davies said ministers had been "dragged kicking and screaming" into providing the extra funds but warned this was not enough.

He said: "Anyone who thinks the additional money made available to FE colleges somehow solves the funding problem is sadly delusional. This is a problem which will not go away until Labour and Plaid ministers accept there is a serious situation they need to deal with."

extending an overtime ban on staff and Bridgend College stopping all its full-time A-level courses from September and shedding 16 lecturing staff, Dr John Gaystone, chief executive of further-education body Fforwm, said: "The recessions of the 1980s and 1990s taught us the need to avoid creating a lost generation of young people deprived of training and job opportunities. FE colleges are well placed to assist [the Assembly Government] and employers in tackling the recession."

"But they need to be funded adequately to ensure they have the staff and infrastructure to move forward. It is ironic that underfunding is forcing some colleges to cut jobs in order to balance the books."

The extent of cutbacks was
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 4, 2009
Words:402
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