Cutting college places won't let Glasgow flourish

ACCORDING to figures released this week, it is a tale of two cities when it comes to the economic recovery in Scotland.

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While Edinburgh was second only to London in terms of jobs growth, Glasgow struggled - it came second bottom of all the UK's biggest cities.

The analysis by the Centre for Cities think tank showed that while our East coast neighbours witnessed a rise of almost 20,000 jobs, Glasgow saw a fall of more than 14,000 during the same period. This is a worrying trend, particularly for those in our city who are trying to get themselves back into the workplace.

It is often easy to think of these as just statistics, but each one of these jobs being lost has a huge effect on the individual and their wider family.

The current SNP government has often been accused of being Edinburgh-centric - cancelling the Glasgow Airport rail link while continuing the expensive tram project for example - but it cannot continue to ignore such an imbalance in job creation.

One of the best ways of attracting jobs and businesses is by having an educated, skilled workforce. One of the main routes of achieving this is through college education.

Such practical training is essential in ensuring people have the right skills to meet the jobs that there are, and to encourage companies to come to an area and create more.

College courses also give great flexibility to the labour market, allowing people to re-train in another industry if jobs are lost, or helping those who have been out of work for a period due to having children or even ill-health.

The SNP have cut the number of college places by a third since they came to power.

There are now 140,000 fewer people studying at college than in 2007 and, because of Glasgow's size, the city has borne a large proportion of the cuts.

But these figures also show that this cut has had a disproportionate effect on women.

Many of these courses are part-time, and we know that women are far more likely to need part-time courses as a route back into employment after having children, a point supported by the Scottish Funding Council. But the Scottish Government has tried to justify the fall in numbers by describing many as "hobby courses".

The number of women attending part-time courses has almost halved since 2007. The Scottish Government may think that is an acceptable position to be in but I think thousands of women across Scotland will disagree.

They need the flexibility of part time study to retrain while looking after children.

In Glasgow we have a situation where thousands of students were unable to secure a place at the institution they applied to last year - ultimately reducing their chances of finding a job.

If the Scottish Government is serious about getting people back into work right across Scotland (and not just in Edinburgh), it cannot continue cutting college places and stopping people's ability to retrain.

Careers and Jobs

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