Educators Support Shetland

Created on: 05 Apr 2024 | Last modified: 11 Apr 2024

Anne Huntley, Retired Community Learning Lecturer

The following statement is on the homepage of Shetland College UHI, "Whether you are leaving school, returning to education, looking to train or upskill, we can provide you with a wide choice of learning opportunities, all with flexible options and progression so you can create your own unique learning journey." 

Will this still be the case after the proposed cuts are implemented? If there is a 30% cut affecting: Accounting, Business, Hospitality, Creative Industries, Access to Education, Deck Cadets, Engineering Cadets, Learning Centres and Employability where do students start in order to progress? A reduced programme inevitably impacts the choice of learning opportunities, the flexibility of options and the chance to upskill.

The worst thing about the proposals is the disproportionate affect these measures will have on the most vulnerable in Shetland.  Those students who require encouragement and access to local facilities and dedicated tutors. Those students who are not in a financial position to travel to mainland institutions and do not have the confidence to engage with online learning.

Shetland College was set up as a Further Education College to fill the gap in vocational training required by local industries. Where will local businesses upskill their employees in the future if these proposals are implemented? Where will the school leavers go who just need a few years at a local College to build confidence and progress their own unique learning journey?

Louise Garriock, Teacher of Home Economics

Making these cuts will have a huge detrimental impact on Shetland. It’s communities and employment. Shetland takes great pride in its culinary sector which means having people trained in the Hospitality world of work, making these cuts from the Shetland UHI will have a great impact on the Hospitality industry in Shetland which will mean hiring people from out with Shetland to keep this industry going and offering delicious foods for our residences and tourists.

Hiring people out with Shetland will have its challenges too, no housing, expenses to move, expensive place to live.

Making these cuts in the Shetland UHI Hospitality department will affect people from a vulnerable and disadvantaged background which they will suffer the most. Coming from a large family on a low income and being a young adult, I did not want to leave Shetland, nor could I afford to leave Shetland.

I had always wanted to be a Home Economics teacher, but I just did not want to leave my family for weeks/months at a time to study and we could not afford university. I decided to choose my next passion, cooking, I did a Skill Seekers Professional Cookery course while working in a local hotel restaurant.

This gave me the chance to stay with my family, afford college and still train as a chef. Making this cut from the Hospitality will prevent young adults doing training in something they love and see their future career developing in.

Brenda Hughson, Teacher of Home Economics

I was very disappointed when I heard that Skills for Work Hospitality Course was to no longer be offered to our young people, especially as there appears to be a huge shortage of staff in the Hospitality industry in Shetland. 

The SfW Course has different content to any of the Health & Food Technology/Practical Cookery courses currently offered in the schools who are lucky enough to have a Home Economics Teacher, equipping our young people with key employability skills and allowing them to make links with local businesses.

We have been lucky to have had pupils accepted onto the SfW Hospitality Course over many years and they have all spoken very positively about the course and it has often helped to secure part time jobs in the hospitality sector, as well as encouraging them to return to UHI to study again as young adults. 

Most recently, one of our pupils continued on to the NC courses in Hospitality post 16, and it has given her the skills and confidence to set up her own small cake making business.

If there are no opportunities for people to study Hospitality locally (amongst many other practical, creative courses also under threat), the current recruitment crisis in Shetland hotels, restaurants, care homes, school canteens and independent producers can only escalate and impact enormously on our economy, both for Shetland residents and for the tourism industry.

Hazel Tulloch, Principal Teacher Home Economics

I write regarding the proposed cuts to job and opportunities in our local college. It has for some time provided the opportunity for local pupils to engage in learning in an establishment close to home, many are not ready to make the move to the mainland to access education. It has helped in closing the poverty-related achievement and attainment gap by providing the services and courses it does.

Local employers use the college to provide appropriate qualifications and training, and it is in the Hospitality area that I, as a Home Economics teacher at the AHS, feel aggrieved.

Pupils interested in Hospitality will no longer have the opportunity to choose Skills for Work opportunity at the college. How do we foster and ignite the passion for food and catering if it is not given status by our local community? Where do our cooks for schools, the care homes, staff for local hospitality businesses come from? How does the thriving tourist market continue if we do not have the quality staff to man our local cafes and hotels?

Surely this is a very short-sighted proposal based on money with little thought to the impact on our local economy, businesses and most importantly our young people who are the future of these islands.