HC Deb 02 March 2000 vol 345 c405W
Mr. Beggs

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the future of Ballymena Government Training Centre, Co. Antrim indicating the steps being taken to redeploy instructors, administrative staff and industrial staff employed at the Centre and the likely number of redundancies in each group of employees. [112406]

Mr. Ingram

Responsibility for the subject in question has been delegated to the Training and Employment Agency under its Chief Executive. Mr. Ian Walters. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Ian Walters to Mr. Roy Beggs, dated 1 March 2000: The Secretary of State has asked me, as Chief Executive of the Training and Employment Agency, to reply to your question about the future of Ballymena Training Centre, the steps being taken to re-deploy staff, and the likely number of redundancies. Following a review of training centres and Further Education colleges, the then Minister, Mr. McFall, confirmed in September 1 that planning would proceed on the merger of the training centres and FE colleges. Plans are underway for Ballymena Training Centre to become fully integrated into the North East Institute of Further and Higher Education and the aim is for the merger to take effect in September 2000. To help facilitate the merger process, the Department, acting through the Agency, has introduced a voluntary redundancy scheme for training centre staff in the instructional and industrial grades. In Ballymena, 11 staff out of a total of 30 staff have applied for and been granted voluntary redundancy. There will be a further opportunity for staff in these grades to apply for the voluntary redundancy scheme in the next few months. Arrangements are being discussed for instructional and industrial staff who prefer to transfer to employment with North East Institute, to do so with appropriate protection of their employment rights. I expect that all administrative staff in the training centre will be re-deployed to other parts of the Department or, perhaps, the wider Northern Ireland Civil Service. There is no need for a voluntary redundancy scheme for this group of staff. I hope you find this information helpful.