Hull College Group to shed over 200 staff

Hull College Group is preparing to shed up to 231 full-time jobs in an effort to balance its books.

In a statement that appeared online yesterday, chief executive Michelle Swithenbank warned that “some difficult decisions have to be made” to regain stability amid longstanding financial troubles.

The FE commissioner reported in February last year that HCG’s finances remained precarious after the Skills Funding Agency had issued a notice of concern in November 2016.

“We need to change the way we do things which is why the Hull College Group team has been looking at new ways of working,” said Ms Swithenbank.

“As a result, a restructure is being put forward which involves a number of proposed redundancies.

“This potentially will affect up to 231 full-time equivalent posts across our sites in Goole, Harrogate and Hull, including HCUK Training.”

Anyone affected by redundancy will be offered “our full-support and guidance” throughout the process, she claimed, including interview training and counselling.

“We are also working with major stakeholders to look at redeployment opportunities for our staff,” she added.

“To strengthen and protect our unique Hull city centre, Goole and Harrogate resource, we are also making changes to our curriculum so it best meets the needs of our local communities.

“From September this year, we will offer an improved range of courses in both further and higher education, including a number of new foundation degrees.”

The FE commissioner’s report warned that HCG’s “operating performance, as measured by surplus/deficit after interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation costs has amounted to a cumulative deficit of around £10 million over the past four years”, while “a further deficit in excess of £1 million is forecast for the current year”.

The notice was issued because the SFA had rated the group ‘inadequate’ for financial health based on its 2016-to-2018 financial plan, and because it had requested exceptional financial support.

The then-senior leadership team had not addressed key issues, including the steady decline in financial performance and a loss of market share.

There was said to be concern at all levels of the organisation that it “lacks strategic vision and strong, resolute leadership and that this is frustrating and demotivating for staff”.