A WORRIED employee fears for the future of young people in Essex after being told a council's careers department is being downsized.

People working at Essex County Council's employment and skills department have been told their team is being reduced from 24 people to four and those who want to stay will have to re-apply for their jobs.

Part of their role is to help young people who are out of work or training to gain apprenticeships, accredited volunteering opportunities, jobs or college courses.

But one employee, who asked not to be named, said he feared the cuts would see people slip through the net.

He said:"There is a whole team of people being let go and nobody seems to be aware of it - once a service is lost it is gone forever and there will be no point complaining about it.

"We are being told to keep quiet.

"The team is being cut from 24 people to four.

"It makes me worry about the future of young people - with a smaller team and less manpower available to give advice it could give rise to an increase in them slipping out of the system and into crime and anti-social behaviour."

Earlier this week, The Gazette revealed the authority will have to plug a £100 million funding gap by 2021.

The council no longer has to provide career advice which is now the responsibility of secondary schools while the Government's National Careers Service also available.

A spokesman for Essex County Council said: “Every service within the county council has been part of a wide-scale restructure over the past two years to ensure the organisation can meet the challenges faced by local government now and in the future.

“It’s no secret that every local authority is facing financial pressures and it is vital we, like others, adapt our approach to delivering services. We have reviewed the organisation’s structure and also the way we work.

“The process has been carried out in phases and is not unique to people working in employment and skills. As with all of our services, our aim is to ensure we have the most effective and efficient provision possible, meeting the needs of the county.

“In order to do this, we have made the decision to bring employment and skills delivery closer to education and our youth service, maximising our impact.

"With these changes, we are confident not only will we be more efficient but we will also offer Essex’s young people the best possible education and careers guidance through the resources and connections which our youth service provides.”