Redundancies at Skills Development Scotland

Worker using a jigsaw saw
Image caption Skills Development Scotland offers careers advice and workplace training support

Scotland's careers advisers are finding their own jobs under pressure, as the agency that employs them sheds nearly a tenth of its staff.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) is looking for 125 voluntary redundancies as it faces cuts of more than £20m.

The redundancies are being sought from throughout the organisation, which offers careers advice and support for workplace training.

Last year, the organisation cut 90 full-time jobs.

It is also at the heart of the teams that mobilise when major plants close with significant job losses.

The savings it needs to make account for a tenth of its budget.

At Holyrood, Scottish Labour's David Whitton has demanded an emergency statement from new skills minister, Angela Constance, saying the job losses are "a direct result of SNP budget cuts".

He argued this was not the time to axe those who advise others in how to find new employment.

"It simply doesn't make sense that the agency tasked with helping people find alternative employment if they lose their jobs is itself making 125 people redundant in the teeth of a recession," Labour's skills spokesman said.

"How can we have a credible skills strategy in Scotland when the people tasked with delivering it are all being shown the door?"

The Scottish government responded to the redundancy news by stressing its commitment to the SDS agency arranging 34,500 training places next year.

It also underlined that the redundancies will be voluntary, and that ministers want to encourage public sector efficiency.

A Scottish government source claimed it was a "desperate measure" for Labour to put Angela Constance under pressure.

"This is a minister who's been in post for two days, and here they are trying to make an issue out of an organisation that delivered 20,000 apprenticeship places last year, it's on track for 20,000 more this year, and next year 34,500 training places are in the draft budget," he said.

The chairman of SDS, John McClelland, said: "Since it's creation, SDS has made some sustained and positive impact on skills provision in Scotland. We continue to plan for an ambitious future.

"We are working with our staff to become a more focused organisation, appropriately equipped to deliver real benefits to individuals and employers.

"The organisation has already achieved £20m of efficiency savings since its inception in 2008, with a further £19m being delivered in the current year."

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