Ongoing erosion of Further Education should not be allowed to occur without public scrutiny says Eastwood

Alliance Economy Spokesperson, Sorcha Eastwood, has said that the recent news of potential redundancies and closure of campus sites, should not be going ahead in a political vacuum.

Economy Sorcha Eastwood

Speaking after the South Eastern Regional College (SERC) announced a proposed redundancy scheme, Eastwood said she understands FE colleges are being placed in a difficult position given their budget but change of this scale shouldn’t be occurring without an Executive and Economy Committee in place.

“There is a conflicting reality right now with regards to our Further Education system; on the one hand you have Department strategies outlining the importance of FE to our economy, you have businesses in every sector saying skills shortages is a huge issue and on the other hand we are witnessing the ongoing erosion of our FE colleges.”

“In addition to potential redundancies and closure of campuses, we know there are also transformation proposals being considered, all of which are taking place without public scrutiny.”

“If the DUP were not boycotting the Executive, we would be able to work together on a cross-party basis through the Economy Committee and the Assembly Chamber to really evaluate these decisions”

“I have serious concerns that the decisions being made right now will lead to long-term problems for our FE sector and in-turn our economy.”

“The UK Government are telling us they are pro-business and want to see an increase in productivity rates in NI, well one of the key ways we will achieve that is through life-long learning and training and a key pillar to that is FE.”