The latest unemployment figures for Worcester show that there were 1,025 claimants of JSA and Universal Credit in March compared to 1,015 the month before or 1,225 one year ago. These figures, whilst slightly up on the records set between October and January are still amongst the lowest since at least 2006. The overall rate of unemployment in Worcester remained close to record lows at 1.6%. However, Robin has expressed his concern at the closure of local firm Froude Hofmann and their announcement that around 100 employees at the firm have already been laid off. He has contacted the company, the local job centre, the LEP, the Chamber of Commerce and both the City and county Councils to ensure that plans are put in place to support workers from the automotive business.

Youth unemployment in Worcester has also remained close to record lows and was flat month on month at 225, down from 315 one year ago and less than half the rate it stood two years ago. At less than 2% this is well below the national and regional averages. Today Robin will be attending the All Party Group for Youth Employment to hear more about the Government’s plans for apprenticeships and how the move to create three million apprenticeships around the country can be rolled out in every part of the UK.

Having been informed of the potential closure of the local automotive business Froude Hofmann, Robin has already contacted a number of local engineering businesses to encourage them to take on workers from the firm as he is aware of concerns about skills shortages and the challenge of finding trained engineers.

He also contacted the local job centre to ensure that they were providing support to former employees of the company. He has asked representatives of the LEP, the Chamber of Commerce and the two councils to meet in Worcester this week to discuss what can be done to support employees, ensure rapid engagement with any plans to save the company and, if it cannot be saved, to ensure that its site – a prime industrial location in the Blackpole estate – is brought back into use as soon as possible. He has also contacted the Business Secretary to ensure he is aware of the issue and to ask for any help that his department can provide.

Robin was only informed of the closure on Tuesday and immediately contacted the business to ensure that workers would be properly supported but has not yet been given a meeting with management. He was sent a statement from the company which read:

“The Company has experienced a period of significant losses coupled with a weak order intake.  As a result, a notice of intention to appoint administrators has been filed. In the meantime we are working with Andy Turpin and Matt Hardy of proposed administrators Poppleton & Appleby to assess the options in the coming days. The majority of staff have been laid off while we decide on the most appropriate course of action, which could include amongst other options, the continuation of ongoing operations and a possible sale of the underlying business and assets.”

Commenting on the statement and the latest job figures Robin said:

“Worcester’s economy remains strong and unemployment figures, whilst slightly higher on the month are considerably lower than they were a year ago or for any of the last seven years. I am glad to see that Worcester’s youth unemployment continues to be close to record lows and that both youth and overall unemployment are below 2%. With Waitrose recruiting for their new store and a number of other local businesses expanding I am confident we can continue to make progress in the months ahead.”

“I was deeply saddened by the shocking news that Froude Hofmann, a name that has been trading in Worcester for over a century, are bringing in administrators and that many of the highly trained workers of that business have already been laid off. The UK automotive sector is strong and we are exporting more cars as a country than we ever have before but it seems that the mechanical engine testing technology that this firm specialised in is being replaced by new forms of electronic measurement and technology. I am disappointed that the business has not been in touch with local politicians earlier about the challenges they were facing and that we have been presented with a fait accompli rather than a chance to help.”

“Nevertheless I am determined that everything that can be done is done to help former employees of this major local name and to ensure that the skills and talents of its workforce are given the best chance to keep on contributing to Worcestershire’s economy. If there is any way of finding the business a buyer or getting it back up and running then it should be explored. I am glad to hear that a number of local engineering companies have already been in touch with the Job Centre in Worcester to express an interest in workers from Froude Hofmann and I will be getting together with local business groups including the LEP and the Chamber as well as local councils to ensure that swift action is taken to coordinate the best possible response.”

Notes to editors:

For the latest job figures in Worcester see:

https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/reports/lmp/la/1946157196/report.aspx?town=Worcester

For information on Froude Hofmann see:

The company, which can trace back its roots to Worcester since 1903, employs approximately 100 members of staff.  The business designs, manufactures and supplies an extensive range of engine testing systems in the automotive, gas turbine, marine and industrial market.

Whilst all options are being considered, should any party be interested in acquiring the business and/or its assets, notes of interest should be sent to James Acton at Gordon Brothers Europe, the Company’s appointed agent, on 0121 216 6280.

http://www.froudehofmann.com/

For details of Worcester Job Centre Plus see:

http://local.dwp.gov.uk/worcester/