Skills body under fire for planned redundancies

24th December 2010 at 00:00
Skills development Scotland has come under political fire after announcing plans to make 125 members of staff voluntarily redundant.

Skills development Scotland has come under political fire after announcing plans to make 125 members of staff voluntarily redundant.

Jeremy Purvis, the finance spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said: "Skills Development Scotland really hasn't turned into the body the SNP promised. As colleges are struggling to come to terms with their settlement from the Scottish Government, the news from SDS causes even more concern that the Scottish Government does not have a coherent view on supporting skills in Scotland."

Lib Dem proposals to give colleges a greater role, and to "bring the ineffective SDS to an end", meant that Scottish regions would be able to gain from a much more effective approach to skills, he said.

"It is highly questionable that the SNP Government has spent pound;20 million on set-up costs for a new national quango which is now making people redundant. This lack of coherence needs to come to an end."

The agency was set up in 2008 when the careers, skills, training and funding services of Careers Scotland were merged with Learndirect Scotland and the skills intervention arms of Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

An earlier round of redundancies in 2009 led to 155 voluntary departures.

Labour's spokesman on skills, David Whitton, called on the new Skills Minister, Angela Constance, to make an emergency statement to MSPs on the issue.

"It simply doesn't make sense that the agency tasked with helping people find alternative employment if they lose their job is itself making 125 people redundant in the teeth of a recession," said Mr Whitton.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: "Calls for an emergency ministerial statement are absolutely ridiculous. The decision to have a voluntary severance scheme is clearly an operational matter for SDS, whose board will quite properly decide how they secure further efficiencies.

"SDS has a superb record, most recently delivering 20,000 apprenticeship places despite the recession, and the critical issue is that frontline services and training places will be unaffected by this voluntary scheme."

John McClelland, chair of SDS, said: "We are working with our staff to become a more focused organisation, appropriately equipped to deliver real benefits to individuals and employers."

The organisation achieved pound;12m efficiency savings during the last financial year and a further pound;19m is anticipated in this financial year.

elizabeth.buie@tes.co.uk.

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