100 jobs under threat at West Notts College

Vision West Nottinghamshire College's Derby Road campus in Mansfield.
Vision West Nottinghamshire College's Derby Road campus in Mansfield.

One hundred jobs are at risk at Mansfield’s Vision West Nottinghamshire College as it bids to save more than £2.5 million.

Falling student numbers and a change in apprenticeship funding have led the college, which also has campuses in Kirkby and Sutton, to draw up restructuring plans.

Dame Asha Khemka. Picture: Rachel Atkins.

Dame Asha Khemka. Picture: Rachel Atkins.

A college spokeswoman said: “The college needs to make savings of about £2.7m 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 a college-wide restructure, which will see its staffing base reduce by the equivalent of 100 full-time posts.

Dame Asha Khemka, college principal and chief executive, 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 must take decisive and necessary action to ensure we remain on a stable financial footing moving forward.

Dame Asha Khemka, Vision West Nottinghamshire College principal and chief executive

“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 core services and the quality of our student experience are not affected. In some cases, this re-focusing on our core business means services to students will actually be enhanced.”

The college has seen a fall in its students aged 16-18 in recent years, with about 500 fewer learners than five years ago, “in line with the national demographic downturn”.

The spokeswoman said: “The college 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 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 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 per cent decline in apprenticeship starts since the reforms – and apprenticeship levy on large employers – came into force in May 2017.”