Jaguar Land Rover to the rescue?

Posted on 10 Nov 2011

A lot of press attention has been given to Jaguar Land Rover’s announcement that they are to create 1,000 new jobs. Tom Moore weighs up the pros and cons of the decision.

Clearly this is good news. However, I was concerned when I heard that some local tier one manufacturers not in Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) supply chain were worried by the recruitment drive. This seemed to centre on fears about losing skilled workers.

I spoke to Rachael Eade from the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) West Midlands about the announcement and her opinion on the benefits and possible detrimental effects JLR’s decision would have on the local area.

“The evolution of Jaguar Land Rover continues at pace and news of an additional 1000 manufacturing jobs at Solihull – a 25% increase in its workforce – is another shot in the arm for the West Midlands,” she said.

Ms Eade went on to explain that not only is this positive for the job market in Solihull, but also elsewhere. “Importantly, the multi-billion pound investment is focused on new product development and this can only mean new opportunities for local suppliers and MAS’ role will be to work with them on exploring these possibilities.”

“For every job created at JLR, it potentially creates a further 3.6 jobs in the supply chain. As in all global manufacturing arenas, we must not take things for granted and suppliers will need to make sure they offer world class performance, are cost competitive and, importantly, continue to offer value added design and innovation.”

After the Office for National Statistics released figures showing that the trade in goods deficit had widened, Eade was optimistic about the role manufacturing had to play in UK exports. “Some people are also missing the fact that 75% of new business won has been in export markets and this is significantly helping to strengthen the UK’s manufacturing output.”

“New model developments will be welcomed throughout the world and will help to increase the car manufacturer’s drive into new markets.”

When I asked Eade about the concerns of tier one manufacturers, she commented: “There is always movement in the supply chain. There is an attractiveness to work at Jaguar Land Rover, as it is a global manufacturing brand. It is a great name to have on your CV.”

“There is movement between suppliers and companies, but in the West Midlands and other regions of the UK we have an experienced skills base to draw upon.”

The chance of career progression for manufacturing employees is a positive. However, employers that lose out during JLR’s recruitment drive should be supported.

Asked how the demand for new employees will be met, Eade commented: “The important thing is to look at apprentices and graduates, bring younger people in who can learn new manufacturing techniques.”

“There is an opportunity to increase the number of young people in manufacturing. This job creation is slightly different to others in that these are manufacturing jobs, not design engineers. Most of the jobs that have been announced before have been design engineers.”

Thomas Moore