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A centre helping thousands of residents gain employment skills faces an uncertain future after its funding was withdrawn.

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The Intech Centre in Essex Road, Islington, will no longer be receiving financial support from Ufi, which is the government-backed organisation running the Learn Direct programme.

Intech had been expecting £250,000 to pay for the numeracy, literacy and IT courses offered to lone parents and the unemployed in the next academic year.

Salih Yilmaz, centre manager, said: “We feel the selection process for the contract was unfair and unequal. We are sent those who are hardest to reach and who need help the most because they are trying to find employment.

“Now they will miss out on all these opportunities.”

One learner Lorraine Capoccia said: “Since starting a training course at the Essex Road branch I have been given good advice and spurred on to studying further. It will be a shame so many others will not benefit.”

Student Margaret Daley said: “The centre is a major part of the community for people of different backgrounds and ages.”

Another, Earl Dawkins, said: “Centres such as Intech are beneficial to the community they serve. It is crucial that they are able to receive funding.”

Intech has been offering Learn Direct since 2003 and separately runs Home Office English tests for foreign nationals.

Adrian Beddows, a spokesman for Ufi, said: “We want to help as many people learn as we can so we have decided to work with fewer, larger providers. This means we can save on administration and other costs and use that money to fund people to gain qualifications.

“There will still be four centres in the area offering Learn Direct to the people of Islington and we will ensure all current learners get the support they need to complete their courses.”

An online petition has now been started at www.intechcentre.com.

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