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Success comes at a price for Lauder

Jim Donaldson looks at prospects south of the border for a transformation of learning and skills

Kathleen Edward (above) is one of 900 people helped into a new job by the employment and enterprise arm of Lauder College. She has fulfiled one of the criteria set south of the border and "acquired the skills for sustainable employment", having set up a business, Tartan Teuchters, designing and selling cards with a Scottish twist.

But Lauder learnt in the past week that these successes bring no guarantees as it is set to lose more than a third of the annual pound;1.8 million income it receives from its employment and enterprise activities - only six years after winning the Queen's Anniversary prize for its services to the unemployed.

The college has been integral to the Fife Training Partnership, led by Fife Council, which has been delivering training for eight years under the New Deal programme. A change in the rules, however, has handed responsibility for contracts to the Jobcentre Plus network, which wants national providers for the New Deal.

Lauder now faces having to lay off 17 staff and three centres in Falkirk, Alloa and Polmont may close. The repercussions could be wider, affecting the running of its employment operations. "We will be reviewing our requirements over the next few weeks," Bill McIntosh, the college principal, said. He added: "We would never assume that we have a given right to contracts just because we have delivered a service successfully in the past."

The new contract has been awarded to Stirling-based Triage Central and Professor McIntosh was careful to comment: "This is not to say that the new provider will be unable to cater for local needs."

As for Kathleen Edward, her advice is: "If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it."

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