Will Welsh Labour be gravediggers of lifelong learning?

50% cut in part time funding

It wasn't so long ago that the Welsh Government was making a commitment to 'Lifelong Learning' - equality of opportunity in learning and training throughout life a key stone of education policy in Wales. But like pretty much everything else that Labour used to believe in, that idea is being sacrificed on the altar of obedience to austerity and sticking to Con-Dem spending limits.

Welsh Further Education (FE) colleges are now facing up to a 50% cut in funding for most part time provision. This is on top of a general so-called "efficiency saving" - that's an obscure way of saying "cut" to those of us who work in further education. The result is jobs, courses and maybe whole colleges are put at risk.

The Welsh Government has just awarded a number of its latest work based learning contracts to private or 'third-sector' providers, some of whom don't even recognise trade unions. So much for the promise I heard First Minister, Carwyn Jones, make to the Wales TUC in 2013, that there is no room for outsourcing of public services in Wales!

Or does Welsh Labour no longer consider education and training to be an essential public service? Their willingness to continue to pass on destructive Con-Dem cuts to funding for further education in Wales, even when they hope and expect to have a Labour Government in Westminster in a couple of months, would seem to suggest that this is the case. It also says that they know as well as the rest of us that Labour in Westminster will continue with both austerity and underfunding Wales.

We're in a fight for the very future of further education in Wales and what is needed now is national action from trade unionists to secure the funding we need to continue to provide the quality training and education that college workers pride ourselves on. My experiences of being at the sharp end of Welsh Labour cuts in further education confirms for me the correctness of standing for TUSC, to provide hope and an alternative to the cuts-consensus. If you're a public sector worker in a service like FE, threatened by Welsh Labour's acceptance of Con-Dem austerity, isn't it time you checked out TUSC for yourself?


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