Jobs lost as county axes Connexions

CAREERS advisors working for the council’s Connexions have been made redundant due to budget cuts and will leave on Tuesday (May 31).

Earlier this month, UNISON raised concerns that 43 Connexions employees were ‘in limbo’ following East Sussex County Council’s decision to axe Connexions, which provides support, information and advice for young people.

The uncertainty had arisen because the council’s contractor for the service, Babcock Enterprise, claimed the council had to provide the careers advice service by law.

The council had told the Herald it would ‘always seek to fulfil its statutory obligations’ and would continue to provide careers advice to young people until the end of the academic year.

However, last Friday (May 20) Connexions staff across Sussex, including 17 in Eastbourne, were told they would be leaving on May 31.

According to UNISON, the union which represents those set to lose their jobs, eight members of staff will remain in employment elsewhere within East Sussex County Council.

The decision to cut Connexions has caused concern among the many careers advisors and parents.

Henry McKendrick has worked for Connexions for 22 years and will be leaving on Tuesday.

He said, “Things have been uncertain for quite some time so appointments at local secondary schools were made for the coming months and they will all now have to be cancelled.

“The loss of the careers service will mean that young people who are not vulnerable or do not have special needs will not have any careers guidance.

“Also, 16 or 17-year-olds who are unemployed and seeking to claim benefits will not have anywhere to go from June 1.”

Connexions is being cut as part of the £20m worth of savings the Children’s Services department needs to make from this year’s budget.

A spokesperson previously said the council is having to make tough decisions but explained axing Connexions would equate to more than 15 per cent of the budget.

The council also told the Herald policy changes are taking place which include a National Careers Service which will be launched by the government in September.

The council spokesperson said, “It is important people understand this isn’t just about cuts.

“It is also about policy changes and the fact it will no longer be our responsibility to provide these services.”

From May 31 the council will only have funding to support young people with learning difficulties and provide one-to-one personal adviser support for the most vulnerable.

The council spokesperson added, “We hope that the schools will continue to provide young people with this kind of support.”