Malcolm expresses questions the Scottish Government onTelford College job losses
Question on job losses at Telford College Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab):

Malcolm and Sarah  outside the Scottish Parliament  listening to a woman in a beretMalcolm Chisholm in June 2009 with Sarah Boyack, listening to Telford College staff The cabinet secretary mentioned Telford College in my constituency, and she will know that there have been several job losses among staff there, including compulsory redundancies in the business, information technology and finance departments. Given the importance of those areas to the Edinburgh economy, does she think that the decision of the management of the college was wise?

Fiona Hyslop (The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning:
As the member knows, colleges are autonomous institutions, so it would not be appropriate for me to interfere with the management of any individual college.

We all know that there are limited resources to deploy. That has never been truer than it is today. It is therefore incumbent on us all to ensure that those resources are used to best effect, and are particularly focused on front-line delivery - we have to ensure that the resources benefit the students.

We have a strong story to tell about how we and partners in government have done just that. For example, in January, the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council allocated 7 million to support colleges participating in our partnership for continuing employment - PACE - initiative to support those facing redundancy. That has produced results. For example, South Lanarkshire College was able to help to support over half of the employees who were made redundant at Freescale Semiconductor, and Barony College was able to deliver a rural retaining course, which was exclusively targeted at the employees of rural micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

We also need to be mindful of the position of young people. The college story is not limited to supporting those who have lost their jobs as the result of recession. It is now more important than ever to manage the transition from school to college, and Scotland's colleges have continued to support those individuals who need extra help. Indeed, in the face of that growing adversity, my passion about providing more choices and chances for young people in need grows ever stronger. The Government is determined to avoid having a lost generation of young Scots, so I very much welcome the commitment of our colleges to supporting this agenda.

Young people who need more choices and more chances often disengage because the right provision is not available or they do not have the qualifications to progress. Our challenge, therefore, is to help them to progress and achieve the skills that they need for life and work.

October 1st 2009, (Column 20231-2)