Page last updated at 10:42 GMT, Friday, 8 May 2009 11:42 UK

Job cuts 'fall under the radar'

Nick Servini graphic
By Nick Servini

warehouse scene
Closures and major cutbacks have slowed down in recent weeks

BBC Wales' business correspondent gives his latest assessment of the state of the Welsh economy.

"Perhaps if anything a lighter shade of black" - that was the message relayed to me from one union official when asked how things are in the Welsh economy at the moment.

There's no doubt the conveyor belt of closures and announcements of major cutbacks has slowed down in the past few months.

That's not to say those losses aren't still happening but they're smaller and falling under the radar.

For example the JCB gearbox factory in Wrexham is still laying people off, another 17 were announced last month.

The overall figures are devastating. At its peak in January last year there were 590 people employed there, now there are 350. Business is down by half.

Not far away, the story at the Air Products factory at Acrefair near Wrexham is equally devastating.

Recessions also have no respect for history

Some 200 jobs are likely to be lost there as production moves to its plant in China.

Many of the Welsh workers actually helped set up that plant in the Far East. In effect, they helped train the workers who would eventually take their jobs.

Recessions also have no respect for history. Around 200 years of copper production in Llanelli has now come to an end as the last handful of workers decommission the Draka copper wire plant.

And one of the oldest engineering companies in Wales, Taylor and Sons, has been broken up and sold off by administrators. There had been a continuous father-son succession at the firm since 1875 until this recession proved one too far.

We're told time and time again that it's the skills of the Welsh workforce that will help get us out of the recession.

Basic skills

The quality of those skills came under the brutal spotlight of Sir Adrian Webb this week. He's chair of the Welsh Employment and Skills Board.

In his first report he lifted the lid on the state of some of the basic skills which employers are having to deal with when they're looking to take people on.

The report says nearly two-thirds of employers in Wales believe the education system doesn't supply enough people with the skills they need to start work, a figure far higher here than in other parts of the UK.

But it calls on people to hold their nerve and continue to invest in skills. For obvious reasons that's difficult.

How can managers continue to take on apprentices straight from college when they're in the middle of a round of redundancies elsewhere in the company?

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