Rover buyers fear lengthy job hunt

27 April 2005
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28 April 2005 | Liam O'Brien

Former MG Rover purchasers are worried about long-term unemployment amid fears over demand for their specialist skills.

The 100-strong purchasing team at the Longbridge plant received their redundancy notices on 18 April from Rover's administrators, PricewaterhouseCoopers. Since then, many have been applying for jobs.

But contraction in the UK car industry and a perception that their skills are not easily transferable is making the search for new employment difficult.

Martin Lewis, a senior buyer at MG Rover, said there is simply no demand for full-time automotive procurement staff.

"The only requirement is for interim procurement managers in automotive.

"And, if you look to other industries, they say you haven't got relevant industry experience.

"Purchasing is supposed to be a transferable skill, but you get knocked back at interviews by companies that think you can't buy outside automotive."

Steve Gough, a commodity manager at MG Rover for 25 years, added: "I'm in contact with a handful of people from the team and none of them have got any job leads.

"The problem is that MG Rover suppliers have lost millions of pounds and they're not exactly going to want to take on more staff. And our skills are very specialist."

Bryan Duggan, head of recruitment at consultancy PMMS, said MG Rover buyers with production purchasing experience could be the least attractive to employers.

"There has been a lot of growth in services purchasing, so if Rover staff bought services they should be able to slip into a job in any industry.

"It is those who have been doing only production purchasing who are going to struggle."

As part of the government's £150 million aid package for the company's staff, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has opened a Jobcentre Plus hotline for MG Rover workers on 0121 254 5710.

The DWP is also arranging interviews for ex-Rover staff. As SM went to press, 1,086 interviews had been booked by the 5,000 former employees.

A department spokeswoman could not say if any of the interviews were booked by purchasers, because they did not have a breakdown of job titles.

The DWP has also set up a specialist telephone line for employers to advertise vacancies, 0121 452 5453.

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