Plymouth - Dockyard operator Babcock International is taking on more than 100 new apprentices despite making 500 redundancies. The engineering giant has announced that about 10 per cent of its Devonport workforce is surplus to requirements, but it still needs new blood as it “re-balances” the company.
The firm had a major presence at the Apprenticeship Jobs Fair, at Plymouth Guildhall, where it was aiming to recruit at least 100, and maybe as many as 130, new engineering apprentices. In September 2017 it took on 120 apprentices, and staff were keen to stress the company has a strong pipeline of work and needs a constant infusion of new blood.Steve Boyd, Babcock’s apprentice development manager, said a “re-balancing” exercise was under way, as older managers were offered redundancy: “We are still taking apprentices on,” he stressed. “The re-balancing exercise does not effect the apprenticeship programme. This is about keeping the skills up.” In late 2017 Babcock, which has been involved in building the carriers Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales, revealed an order book and bid pipeline of about £31billion. And Mr Boyd said: “We have got plenty of work. “And we have future forecasts to keep them (apprentices) employed.” He said Babcock had vacancies for electrical, mechanical and technical apprentices, as is usual each year, but also for welders and pipe-fitters too. Meanwhile, Babcock this week announced it is in talks with unions over plans to shed 500 staff, understood to be mostly in management and technical roles. The company said the job losses are necessary to make the business “more agile and flexible”. Union chiefs stressed they expect packages offered will be attractive to older members of the workforce and will draw volunteers. However, the scale of the redundancies has drawn speculation that Babcock is expecting future pain as Government defence spending is slashed.
In November 2017, Babcock was booted out of the FTSE 100 – and replaced by takeaway app Just Eat – as investors quaked at the prospect of potential defence spending cuts by Westminster.