Sinn Féin - On Your Side

MLA to meet with Department of Employment & Learning (DEL)

11 January, 2005

Sinn Féin's Employment & Learning Spokesperson Michael Ferguson MLA has expressed his outrage at the DEL's decision to slash the Learndirect programmes as 'Ministerial Madness'.

The news dreaded by Training Organisations across the Six Counties was announced on the 5th and signals the end of a programme that many saw as a complementary method of learning that enhanced the literacy and numeracy of learners especially when supported by the warm body presence of an experienced engaging tutor/facilitator.

The slashing of the Learndirect Budget comes on the back of the decision to also end the Worktrack programme, a wage based training programme that placed learners in employment and skilled them up on the job building confidence and self esteem.

New Deal is also to be cut from a 26-week training programme to 13 weeks begging the question as to what if any qualification could be got in such as a short time.

Commenting upon the cuts and his forth coming meeting with the DEL Michael Ferguson said,

"The common thread throughout the proposed Government Skills Strategy is the issue of addressing the skills deficit in regards to Numeracy, Literacy and ICT.

The Department also contend that they will reduce this skills deficit by 12% over the next two years yet it has either cut the budget to all the programmes or reduced their ability to deliver the Level 2 targets sought.

The Skills Strategy is worthless unless underpinned by investment in Training programmes.

The Department have the audacity to call these cuts 'Efficiency Savings' but what they are really doing is reducing investment in training and destroying the Training Network of Community based Organisations best placed to address the Numeracy, Literacy and ICT skills deficit.

This is a message that I and representatives from Training Organisations will bring to the Department next week." ENDS

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