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Retraining is vital - but hard to get.

SIR - I was interested to see the item by Dr Tony Dobbins, on the impact of mass redundancy in Wales ("We need more jobs not just retraining", HealthWales Dec 17).

When I was in work, I was a mechanical design engineer in a variety of companies and industries, most of which have closed or gone out of business. No doubt some of that may have been due to the various design departments, failing to produce the goods, but in 99% of the cases it was due to governments deciding that, for example, we didn't need a coal industry, or company policy relocating the plants elsewhere in England or Europe.

Because of my profession, I was able to move sideways into similar jobs in other companies. I found as time advanced technology changed, in my case from a drawing board to 2 D computer aided design to 3 D computer aided design, and every company seemed to have a different system.

So, I found that retraining was essential, but very hard to get, unless you paid for it your self, the powers that be, be they the Government, or industry being reluctant to retrain people. From my experience, while replacement jobs are essential, it is also important to have a policy of retraining of redundant workers to meet the needs of the job market or the potential job market.

It is, in a way, a chicken and egg situation: to get the jobs you need a trained workforce and a trained workforce also needs the jobs.

All this has to be seen against the background of the vast reserve armies of labour in Eastern Europe, China and India, who, because of lower labour costs, can produce capital and manufactured goods at a price we can't match.

The major problem is that companies will not relocate to Aberdare or Anglesey, when by investing overseas they can produce the goods for less, thus making themselves more profit, while their redundant workforce has the luxury, according to George Osborne, of living on benefits, snoozing behind drawn curtains.

The same old truisms are as valid today as they were in the 19th century, the driving force of capitalism is profit not philanthropy, and the workforce are the loses in a beggar thy neighbour economy, because it is not profitable to provide jobs or retraining.

JOHN OWEN Caerphilly
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 27, 2012
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