Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Task force sets out worker support plans ahead Honda closure next year

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The Honda site in Swindon

 

A wide-ranging package of support provided for Honda workers in Swindon was among the items discussed at a meeting of a special task force this week.

The task force was established in the wake of the announcement by Honda that its Swindon plant would close in 2021.

Meeting on Wednesday, the task force - which is made up of representatives from the Council, the town’s MPs, local partners, Honda of the UK Manufacturing, Unite the Union, Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP) and sector representatives - discussed support for Honda workers, the supply chain, and the future of the site.

The meeting was chaired by the government's minister for business and industry, Nadhim Zahawi.

The meeting was told that 96 percent of the car plant's 3,500 workers had already taken the opportunity to benefit from coaching sessions, with specialist career coaches – paid for by the motor manufacturer.

Swindon Borough Council has also set aside £200,000 to help Honda workers and companies within the supply chain.

Half of the money has been used to unlock further funding from the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) SME Competitiveness Programme led by SWLEP, which is currently signing up Swindon and Wiltshire residents who are employed at Honda or one of its suppliers for a comprehensive start-up business support programme delivered by experts YTKO.

The programme will start this autumn ​and the HR teams will be asked to share the course details.

The government said it would continue to support the task force in its ambition to support Swindon’s local economy, including through its £3.6 billion Towns Fund, and a £1 billion Future High Street Fund.

Mr Zahawi said: “With its skilled workforce and innovative local businesses, Swindon is a highly attractive area for manufacturing investment, while the Honda site remains ripe for redevelopment."

Swindon Borough Council leader David Renard said: “Swindon has already demonstrated it is starting to bounce back from the economic shock caused by Covid-19 with large-scale investment and regeneration taking place in our town centre.

"Thousands of jobs are also set to be created at a major new warehouse just a short distance away from Honda’s plant and conversations are ongoing with a number of growing businesses.

“Swindon’s success is built on its diverse economy and our ideal location makes us an attractive proposition for companies looking to relocate and grow here.

"Although we will be losing one of the town’s top employers in Honda, the company will leave behind a legacy in the shape of a highly skilled workforce, which will only add to the appeal of firms looking to invest in the Borough.

“A tremendous amount of work has already taken place to support workers from Honda and the supply chain and that will continue in the weeks and months ahead, while the Council is also actively looking to bring new companies into Swindon to provide even more investment and job opportunities for local residents.”