Business leader says skilled workers can engineer new future in global market

In total, nearly 3,000 jobs will be lost in the UK from a workforce of around 40,000 as BAE faces cuts in world defence budgets and a slowing in demand.

We survey the views of business leaders in Lancashire:

Mike Damms, chief executive of East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said:

“This is not a re-run of the end of the coal industry. There will be no ghost towns created and there is a global market that our engineers are servicing – we need to continue to seek out these new opportunities in order that our highly skilled workforce can continue to contribute to the county’s economic well-being.
“The county must hold its nerve. Manufacturing employs 100,000 people in Lancashire in a variety of sectors.
“We must also remain optimistic as we re-balance our civil and military engineering capacity.”

Dr Neil Bentley, CBI Deputy Director-General said:

“Job losses on this scale would clearly be a blow to UK manufacturing, and for the individuals concerned and their families.
“With tighter government defence budgets both at home and abroad, the competitive pressure on companies is fierce.
“This announcement highlights why the Government must publish its Defence White Paper at the earliest opportunity. It needs to set out how it will work with industry, so all companies across the defence supply chain can plan with confidence and choose to invest here.”

Martin Wright, chief executive of the Northwest Aerospace Alliance (NWAA), said:

“The Eurofighter Typhoon jet has received orders for more than 550 aircraft from the four partner nations (UK, Gernamy, Italy and Spain) as well as from Austria and Saudi Arabia. Future export orders are being developed in India, Malaysia, Oman and Japan. However, it seems that production of the Typhoon is to be slowed because of the gap between existing orders and those future export orders.
“This slowing down of production, and thereby extending the production run, will help BAE Systems maintain capability whilst it secures those future export orders and the long-term future of Typhoon. BAE Systems is a vital component of the regional economy and today’s announcement is designed to ensure they remain competitive in a difficult global market and widespread budget cuts.
“The loss of these jobs will be devastating for the families involved and will significantly impact the wealth of the regions. These advanced engineering jobs create real value through research and development and manufacturing technologies. Today’s news would seem to be a step backwards for the rebalancing of the UK economy towards high technology and advanced manufacturing.”
“To put the UK back on track, the aerospace and defence industry need significant support for export of existing products and the development of new products such as unmanned air vehicles.”
But he added that whilst there is a period of uncertainty for the supply chain following the announcement, the civil side of the aerospace market is seeing significant growth with some of the largest aircraft orders ever having been announced in 2011.

Keith Gallagher, North West director for the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, said:

“This is the worst news possible and a significant blow to the region's economy with the cuts also bound to affect firms within the supply chain.
“We certainly cannot allow such high value, well trained and educated workers go to waste and we call on the Government, who want to see a UK Plc growth-led recovery, do all it can to support the new generation of high-tech engineering companies to expand and absorb these skilled workers.”