Somerset county council

County Council Leader to meet Skills Minister

County Council Leader David Fothergill will meet the skills Minister next week to lobby against a major funding cut to Somerset’s biggest adults training provider.

SS&L, formerly known as Somerset Skills and Learning, announced this week that it faces a financial shortfall of around £3m due to a dramatic drop in funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency. It says it faces a bleak future and that 200 members of staff are at risk of losing their jobs.

Since the announcement, the county council has been giving practical support to the company which runs hundreds of training courses across the county.

Now SCC is lobbying Government to reconsider the decision. Councillor David Fothergill will meet Anne Milton, Minister of State responsible for Skills and Apprenticeships, face-to-face in Westminster on Monday. He will be joined by Somerset MPs and SS&L leaders.

Cllr Fothergill said: “This announcement came as a shock to everyone and I’ll be making sure the Minister is left in no doubt of the impact that this decision will have in Somerset.

“This is important to Somerset residents, so it is important to me. Having a skilled workforce is crucial to employment opportunities and the economic prosperity of the county. Anything that jeopardises access to skills training also jeopardises jobs and opportunities and that is a real concern”.

SS&L was previously a part of the County Council but became a separate, not-for-profit social enterprise providing a wide range of courses and apprenticeships.

Since the news of the funding cut, County Council staff have been supporting SS&L as it assesses its finances, considers the market and looking at developing a business case to move forward.

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