Loss of training ‘a blow’ to rural areas

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The proposed closure of the training department at Greenmount has been described as another blow to the rural economy.

Unite’s Regional Officer with responsibility for DARD employees, Gareth Scott has warned about the impact of the decision which could cost twenty full-time jobs due to austerity pressures.

He added: “This is yet another blow to the rural economy – the courses provided by Greenmount are needed if our agricultural sector is to remain competitive and safe into the future. While it is still unclear how the announced job losses will affect Unite’s members working in the rural college, we are particularly concerned at the likelihood of compulsory redundancies.

“These cuts are yet another false economy. Agricultural production is one of the pillars of our economy and reskilling it will be of vital importance for rural communities who have had to endure six years of economic depression. The loss of this training for farmers will undermine on-farm health and safety but also restrict the more widespread adoption of modern techniques in the industry.

“We are particularly concerned about suggestions that this training provision might be privatised. The experience of privatisation elsewhere is that it inevitably costs more as profit-driven providers ensure a return for their investors at the public’s expense. Unite is fully in solidarity with the Ulster Farmers Union who are standing up for rural producers and communities and who have raised their own strong concerns about this proposal,” he added.

“Yet again, this announcement brings home the self-defeating nature of the brutal austerity agenda. In order to fund a huge reduction in corporation tax, Stormont Ministers are implementing devastating cuts to the very public services that might underpin future economic growth,” Mr Scott concluded.