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Six-week safeguard for redundant apprentices

The wages of 87 apprentices who lost their jobs at MG Rover have been safeguarded for six weeks.

Birmingham and Solihull learning and skills council announced the measure as part of its proposals to help workers affected by the demise of the Longbridge plant.

The move to help apprentices, whose training in automotive engineering and administration has been moved to Dudley college and Matthew Boulton college, in Birmingham, aims to stop them being lost to the industry.

Workers' wives and partners will get free access to training across the region to develop their careers.

Julie Roberts, senior LSC manager, said: "We are committed to continuing apprentices' training. We have agreed they will be given their training until they find new jobs and will be paid their wage equivalent for the next six weeks."

She said the LSC was working with EEF, the engineering and construction industries association, to find employers willing to take on the apprentices.

David Cragg, chief executive of Birmingham and Solihull LSC, said: "We need to keep apprentices in the industry, and there is a danger that if we don't cover their wages they will go elsewhere."

He said he was trying to secure the future of 400 apprentices working at Rover dealerships, many of whom could lose their jobs through garage closures.

"This is a complex issue," he said. "There are around 8,000 jobs in Rover dealerships and about 4,000 are vulnerable - mostly in small independent dealerships.

"At this stage we are clear that there will probably be a higher-than-average impact on the West Midlands because more people drive Rovers here. We will take on a duty of care with apprentices to ensure their training is not disrupted."

Sixteen colleges across the West Midlands have agreed to waive fees for partners of redundant Rover workers if they begin a course before July 31.

Jobcentre Plus has had more than 2,000 vacancies posted with it from firms interested in taking on former workers from the car manufacturer, which went into administration on April 15 with the loss of more than 5,000 jobs.

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