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Story by Twm Owen, local democracy reporter

A STRUGGLE to recruit tutors has impacted Torfaen Council’s ability to provide skills and industry training. 

Cut backs have meant rather than employing full time tutors Torfaen Borough Council’s Adult Community Learning Service has had to use casual contracts. 

Service manager Angela Price told a council committee: “Not being able to recruit tutors has been a barrier in the past, especially on the industry side. 

“We are heavily reliant on tutors we recruit, they are casual posts. We just can’t offer them a salary as such. Some people don’t like to commit to that as there’s not a guaranteed income for them if the courses do not get off the ground.” 

Ms Price said a health and safety in construction course the service wanted to launch this year was delayed as it struggled to recruit despite repeated advertising only eventually succeeding after using the Indeed website. 

The officer was speaking at a scrutiny committee meeting considering the effectiveness of the service’s commercial training and said more courses are provided than previously but retaining tutors is also an issue. 

“That could be for reasons beyond our control they may find alternative employment or they can’t commit anymore. That is something we are also very mindful off” 

Blaenavon Labour councillor Liam Cowles asked if there was “scope for offering proper, full time jobs.” 

Ms Price replied: “Potentially, never say never. Years ago when we had buckets and buckets of funding we had curriculum specialists for IT and lots of other sectors but because our funding was cut dramatically we can only offer salaried posts to essential skills tutors as such.” 

She said green construction skills is a developing area and the service has recently appointed a tutor, on a casual basis, who will develop courses. 

“If that grows we could make a case for creating a full time or part time post rather than it being reliant on casual hours, but again it’s the demand side.” 

Ms Price added: “I’m all for making the case”. 

The service provides informal, first step learning and training for anyone aged 16 and over offering certificates and qualifications for various industries. It gages demand from employers, the Department of Work and Pensions, local housing associations and the Cardiff Capital Region, though it provides access to higher level qualifications and courses, as well as using employment data. 

Construction, and what is called the Human Foundational Economy that includes health, social care and education and hospitality have been identified as priority sectors. 

Courses run from adult learning centres; The Power Station in Cwmbran, Croesyceiliog Community Education Centre and the Settlement in Pontypool as well as other community venues including schools. 

Income from the commercial courses funds the service as well as developing new courses and subsidises classes for smaller groups and at venues in priority areas which are less cost effective but “important for widening participation”. 

It also attracts funding from the UK and Welsh Governments, some core funding from the council and Coleg Gwent. 

The committee said it was satifisfied with the service but has requested more data on where people accessing the service live, and their age, and how it supports people into employment which is tracked, and wants the council to consider how the service can expand.