A JOBS task force has been set up to tackle the hundreds of jobs that have been lost in Swindon in the new year.
Honda announced on January 11 that it would be making 800 workers redundant, and another 300 contract workers will not be having their terms of employment extended.
The supply chain has also been affected, with 370 staff at SDC, Honda’s logistics firm, due to be made redundant.
The chill winds have hit other sectors, too, with media printers AGI Shorewood announcing this month that 80 jobs will go with closure of its facility on the Kembrey Park Industrial Estate.
More than a dozen jobs are threatened at HMV in the town centre after it went into administration. Posts are also at risk at Jessops and Blockbusters stores in the town after they both went under earlier this month, while Swindon Council is also shedding 120 jobs to make savings.
The combined total of jobs losses since the start of January could hit 2,000.
A task force has been set up which will offer a package of support to Honda associates as well as workers in the supply chain who are affected.
The effort is being led by Forward Swindon and Jobcentre Plus, and will co-ordinate a response from public sector agencies and other organisations, with skills accreditation such as re-training, CV writing and supporting people with people making benefits claims among the services offered.
Project manager Jill Annal, from Jobcentre Plus, is leading the task force and is looking to open up new opportunities for workers shown the door.
“The task force was set up in response to the announcement made by Honda a couple of weeks ago,” she said. “We are putting together packages to help those individuals who will be affected and make them better equipped to go out and compete for work in a very difficult time.
“We have pulled together a package of Jobseeker’s support and careers advice and, for those who want it, we will offer financial advice and information about family finances as well as talking therapies for people suffering from stress or anxiety.
“The fact many of the Honda workers will have been in their jobs for a long time doesn’t mean that the skills training the company has given them isn’t relevant in the outside world. We are putting a call out to companies in various sectors thinking about recruiting in the next three to four months to tell us about their plans and any vacancies that might be suitable.
“The task force includes a number of organisations making sure something positive happens and to provide the necessary resources, and, if necessary, we will talk to the Government and borough or county councils to make sure we have got enough funding available to us, given the numbers of potential redundancies we are talking about.”
Honda workers already have access to an intranet with advice, but the task force could set up training rooms with IT facilities for those affected, with plans due to finalised once more information emerges about which workers will be affected.
The task force includes South Swindon MP Robert Buckland and his counterpart in the north, Justin Tomlinson. Mr Buckland said: “I want to make sure that advice is on hand immediately to support people through what is going to be a traumatic time for them and their families.”
AT LEAST 3,860 OUT OF WORK
UNEMPLOYMENT fell in Swindon last month, according to the latest figures.
In December there were 3,860 people out of work and claiming benefits, compared to 4,095 the month before.
The amount is 2.8 per cent the working population of Swindon, according to the latest statistics compiled by the Office of National Statistics.
The figure is the lowest since December 2008. But the figures do not take into account the job losses at Honda and other factories and shops in the town.
The total number of vacancies in Swindon stood at 1,585 in November, the most recent month for which figures are available.
The tally was down by about 1,000 on the previous month.