Your company recently laid off 15% of the employees. You're running a meeting with your staff to talk about how to deal with the layoffs. After starting the meeting, you begin by saying:
As you're all aware, we've been forced to make significant cutbacks.
"As you're aware, ..." is a way to introduce a topic that your listeners or readers already know about:
"As you're aware," is a formal phrase. A more casual version is "As you know."
Being "forced" to do something means that something made you do it. In the example above, the manager says that the company "has been forced to" lay employees off. It makes it sound as if the company didn't want to lay off those people, but had to do it for some reason that they couldn't control.
Most of the time, people use "forced to ___" to talk about things that someone had to do:
Child soldiers in these countries have been forced to witness and carry out extreme acts of violence.
The native people were forced to convert to Christianity.
But sometimes people use this expression when they don't want to take responsibility for something that they've done. That's kind of how it's used in the example at top.
To "make cutbacks" means to reduce the expenses of a business or government.
In the example above, the speaker says "make cutbacks" to avoid directly saying that the company laid people off. The reason that companies lay off employees is to save money, so when you say that you're "making cutbacks", it is often understood to mean that you're laying people off.
"Significant cutbacks" mean that more than just a few people were fired. If 1% of the employees of a company were laid off, you'd call it "minor" cutbacks. If 40% of employees got laid off, you'd call it "major" cutbacks. But something between maybe 5%-15% would probably count as "significant" cutbacks.
"Significant" is not only used with cutbacks, of course. It's used to talk about all kinds of numbers and percentages:
A significant number of the people we asked had never even heard of Twitter.
There's been a significant drop in the number of complaints since the new system was put in place.
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