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HIE plans phased reduction of staffing levels

2nd September 2002

More of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise network's budget is to be spent on front-line activities and less on back-office administration, under new plans just announced by the development agency.

A drive towards greater efficiency, begun last year by chief executive Sandy Cumming, will see overall staffing levels across the network reduced from the present 660 to 560 by the end of December 2003.

It is anticipated that the job reductions will be achieved naturally, as contracts come to an end and staff move to other jobs or retire. A small number of voluntary redundancy packages are also expected to be offered.
Numbers employed at the HIE core organisation in Inverness will fall from 190 to 150 while staffing levels in the Network's 10 local enterprise companies will reduce from 285 to 225.

The positions held by 150 Careers Scotland staff, who are employees of HIE, will not be affected, nor will 35 posts at a number of remote offices, including the network's recently-opened data processing centre at Lionacleit, Benbecula.

Senior managers have held discussions with union representatives and staff across the HIE network - which stretches from Shetland to Argyll - were told of the plans at a series of local meetings on Friday 30 August.

Commenting on the planned changes, Mr Cumming said the HIE network, like any 21st century organisation, needed to evolve continually to meet customers' needs in an ever-changing business environment.

"The economy of the Highlands and Islands has changed dramatically since the enterprise networks were established in 1991 and so have the challenges facing the HIE network," he said.

"Organisational change is never easy, but the network staff have responded positively to new ways of working which were introduced over the last two years and I am sure they recognise the continuing need to make further changes.
"Time is on our side. We have the next 16 months to plan and implement these changes carefully and methodically to achieve the best result for the HIE network, its customers and its employees."