College Needs To Make Almost £3 Million In Cuts
West Nottinghamshire College needs to make savings of around £2.7 million to balance income with expenditure and ensure it remains a strong and sustainable institution.
It has significantly grown its apprenticeship provision over the last five years, holding the largest college contract in the country in 2016/17. Much of its provision has been delivered on a sub-contracting basis through a network of private training providers with sector-specific expertise. This highly-successful approach has formed a key part of its apprenticeship strategy and enabled the college to expand its offering – both geographically and in its range of curriculum specialisms – while delivering high-quality training to apprentices and employers.
However, major changes to the way apprenticeships are delivered and funded as part of wide-ranging national reforms means many of these sub-contractors can now access funding directly from the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
As a result, the college anticipates this model of delivery disappearing altogether over the next two years. This means it will no longer be able to work with partner providers on apprenticeship training in the future, with all provision coming directly from the college instead. Subsequently, the college will be a significantly smaller apprenticeship-provider going forward.
This is against a national backdrop of a 40% decline in apprenticeship starts since the reforms – and apprenticeship levy on large employers – came into force in May 2017.
Meanwhile, the college has seen a decline in its 16 to 18-year-old student cohort in recent years, with around 500 fewer learners compared with five years ago, in-line with the national demographic downturn.
Consequently, the college needs to make savings of around £2.7 million to balance income with expenditure and ensure it remains a strong and sustainable institution. It is therefore consulting with staff and their trade unions on proposals for college-wide restructure, which will see its staffing base reduce by 100.88 FTE (full-time equivalent) posts.
Dame Asha Khemka, principal and chief executive of West Nottinghamshire College, said:
“Budget pressures caused by a reduction in the number of apprentices and on-campus students –which is consistent with the national trend – means we must take decisive and necessary action to ensure we remain on a stable financial footing moving forward.
“This means reducing our staffing levels to balance income with expenditure while maintaining the high-quality academic and vocational education and training that prepares students for employment or further study.
“We have already taken a range of measures to reduce our operating costs but, regrettably, job losses will be unavoidable.
“I recognise this is a very unsettling time for colleagues and we’ll do all we can to reduce the personal impact on individuals. We are working hard to keep compulsory redundancies to a minimum and are seeking expressions of interest for voluntary redundancy or a reduction in working hours.
“I am absolutely committed to ensuring the college remains at the heart of local prosperity and regeneration, and continues to deliver an exceptional service to the communities we serve.
“The challenges we face aren’t insurmountable and our track record of managing our affairs properly gives me complete confidence that we’ll come through this as a much stronger organisation.
“Our proposals have been developed to ensure that core services and the quality of our student experience are not affected. In some cases, this re-focussing on our core business means services to students will actually be enhanced."
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