Swindon’s leaders say Honda workers well prepared for plant’s closure in July

THOUSANDS of Honda workers are well-equipped to bounce back from the South Marston production plant closing in the summer, town leaders have said.

The last of its 3,500-strong will leave the plant in the coming months.

But the borough council and town MPs say staff can look forward to the future.

Swindon Borough Council has worked with the motor industry heavyweight to ensure its workers have everything they need to leave and move on smoothly into further employment.

Council leader and co-chairman of the national task force David Renard said: “We have been working with Honda and the supply chain companies since the factory closure was announced two years ago to ensure staff make a successful transition into the next phase of their careers.

“I was pleased to hear that such a high proportion of employees who have already used Honda’s career transitions service are now where they want to be after leaving the company.

“This is hugely encouraging, but not surprising, as we know the firm’s workforce is highly-skilled.

“Now less than six months away from the plant’s closure, the remaining Honda staff and those in the supply chain will be aiming to follow in their former colleagues’ footsteps.

“We will keep working with our partners to ensure they are as ready as they can be for the next chapters in their careers.

“I promise them as a council we are doing all we can to ensure our economy is as strong as it can be as we move out of the current pandemic.

“Hundreds of millions of pounds is currently being invested in infrastructure and regeneration projects across the borough, which will ensure we create the right environment for new businesses to fill the void left by Honda in the years to come.”

Fellow task force co-chairman and chairman of the Swindon & Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership Paul Moorby added: “SWLEP is committed to supporting associates leaving Honda’s employment in July.

“We offer practical help and in some cases financial support to assist Honda associates start up their own businesses.

“This is an important addition to the work by Honda and all the taskforce partners, giving Honda associates a good range of options.

“We are funding a £250,000 study to understand how local roads, rail and green energy supply will support a range of future uses of the site, potentially supporting up to 8,000 jobs.

“Honda is keen that it leaves a legacy. Continued high-value advanced manufacturing would be an excellent use of the site and fantastic for Swindon and Wiltshire.”

Many Honda staff who have already left the company since the announcement in 2019 are in new jobs,or training or education.

Hundreds more have been taking advantage of training events and networking opportunities before the plant closes in July.

There will be 200 staff staying on past the July 31 closure date as the plant is decommissioned.

In a joint statement, North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson and South Swindon MP Robert Buckland said: “We have supported the task force which coordinates the work to support the employees and seek future use of the site.

“Firstly, there was the immediate work to identify Honda staff and those in the supply chain impacted by the factory closure. Support was given to secure redundancy terms and the wider coordination of formalising skills, retraining and promoting new opportunities.

“Secondly, the taskforce supported Honda to market the site for potential new owners.

“While Honda wish to wait to release the site until after they have left, work has continued to promote and explore widening the use of the 300-acre site to not just replace the lost Honda jobs but create additional jobs for our growing town.

“These are challenging economic times as we navigate Covid, but we will return to normality and the Honda site remains a prime opportunity for investment.

“The size and location of the site, with excellent road and rail links and a highly-skilled pool of potential employees gives us confidence that Swindon will bounce back.”

Staff and companies looking for skilled workers have been taking advantage of networking events put on by the Japanese car giant.

So far, almost 5,000 employee registrations have been made for events with recruiters who are interested in taking on Honda employees.

The car firm provided several training opportunities for its staff and 2,753 online training courses have been completed, which were a mix of LinkedIn Learning and in-house opportunities.

The car manufacturer’s departure from Swindon will have a big impact on the town but there is optimism about what comes next.

The future of the factory itself is still up in the air.

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