After 40 years of operations, the Ford Southampton Assembly Plant has closed its gates for the final time. The factory, which has produced over 2 million Transit Vans since 1972, will now say goodbye to many of its 531 employees, who were informed of the planned closure in October last year.
Committed to supporting its employees, Ford joined a Multi-Agency Taskforceconsisting of organisations such as Eastleigh College, Southampton City Council, Eastleigh Borough Council, Job Centre Plus, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) and Ford-commissioned outplacement consultants Lee Hecht Harrison, who would help those affected to improve their employability skills.
As part of this new agency and after successfully delivering various training courses for Ford in the past, Eastleigh College provided bespoke training to the affected employees in order to raise employability levels and maximise opportunities for the Ford and Ford Partner employees based at the site.
Ford was able to redeploy 170 employees across its Ford of Britain operations with a further number taking voluntary redundancy or early retirement. For a number of Ford and Ford Partner employees, the prospect of competing for new roles in the labour market after up to 45 years of employment with their Company initially seemed a daunting and nerve-wrecking task.
Steve Slominski*, from Eastleigh, knows the challenges of life after Ford, having taken Voluntary Redundancy from the Swaythling site in 2009. "I spent six months looking for another job to begin with and couldn't find anything that came close to replacing what I had with Ford. A job like that becomes your whole life. You spend years in a company of the same people, in the same environment, so it's hard to replicate once it's gone."
Emma Yorwerth, Engage Recruitment Manager at Eastleigh College, spoke of the success of the partnership. "Right from day one it was decided that there would be non-production days to facilitate Learning and Development support and employability training. This could be anything from how to start your own business, right through to customer service, or skills such as taxi driving or introduction to plumbing for those who wanted to try something completely different."
"Between Eastleigh College, Ford and Ford consultants, LHH, we have spent over 20,000 hours with the employees at risk, which has included delivering over 300 courses and running 3 recruitment fairs for both Ford employees and their affected Ford partner employees. We have had success in getting a good number into employment and are still working hard post the closure to help many more."
Commenting on the support offered by the College, Ford Southampton Assembly Plant stated; "Ford has benefitted from the support provided by Eastleigh College. Ford employees and partner employees gained access to new competences, and the training helped to build their confidence."
Eastleigh College currently work with a number of both employers and job centres, being regarded as one of the best training providers in the country for moving people off of state benefits and back into successful employment. This is financially supported by the European Social Fund.
If you are at risk of redundancy and want to know how Eastleigh College can help you, please firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 023 8091 1246.
*Source: Daily Echo, 26th July 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-23421784
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