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Jobs misery 'not over yet' Expert's gloomy forecast for region.

Byline: By LIZ HAZELTON liz.hazelton@mrn.co.uk

MORE job losses could be on the way to the West Midlands with experts predicting bleak months ahead for the manufacturing industry.

Major cuts at Peugeot, Stadco and Marconi, the collapse of Rover and the end of Jaguar production at Brown's Lane have left thousands of people looking for employment.

Dr Rob Wilson, of the Institute of Employment Research at Warwick University, said: "We have been seeing declines in employment in manufacturing generally, and the motor area specifically, for many years.

"To some extent, there was a stemming of the tide by investors from overseas. But we have been predicting declines in the motor industry for a while, even though people in the trade pooh-poohed it.

"A lot of business is being shipped to India and the Far East.

"Unless companies continue to implement the right strategies in terms of products and skills, there will be further transfers of business to overseas companies."

Manufacturing orders plummeted nationwide in the first quarter of the year, with the West Midlands, along with the North West and Northern Ireland, performing particularly badly.

Expert estimates suggest about 22,000 jobs will be lost in the sector between April and June.

But despite the gloomy forecast, Coventry Chamber of Commerce believes the outlook in the city is good.

Director of operations Dianne Williams said: "Obviously, the manufacturing sector is going through a tough spell at the moment, but other sectors are thriving and that must not be forgotten.

"Generally, the economy is doing very well and the consistently high levels of employment in Coventry and Warwickshire leave us confident that people who have been made redundant recently will be able to find employment elsewhere.

"We are staying upbeat and working as hard as possible to give businesses the support and advice they need at what is undeniably a difficult time.

"It is important that small businesses, particularly those in the automotive supply chain, take advantage of the range of support programmes that have been put into place to help them.

"Business Link has a number of schemes in place . . . which have helped countless businesses in the automotive and manufacturing sectors.

"The aim is to help firms to spread their business across different sectors, leaving them less vulnerable to major industrial and economic fluctuations."

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TOLL: Jaguar's Brown's Lane plant (top) and Marconi and Peugeot (above) have all announced cut jobs in the city in the last few months
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:May 27, 2005
Words:413
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