Engineering consultancy firm Halcrow is set to cut 42 jobs in Birmingham and Worcester, saying there was no end in sight for the recession troubles in their sector.
The company, one of the leading names in the industry with a huge variety of public and private clients in the water, transport, property, maritime and environmental sectors, is cutting 269 staff from its UK and Ireland operation – around six per cent of the workforce.
Halcrow, which employs about 4,200 people in the UK and Ireland and 4,000 more around the rest of the world, blamed “continuing economic difficulties” for crippling the sector, as budget-conscious employers cut back on the money they spent on consultancy. This had led to a serious reduction in the amount of work taken on by Halcrow in the past few months, the firm said.
The cuts in the West Midlands will mean 36 jobs going at the company’s Worcester office, and six at the Birmingham office, located on the Hagley Road.
Halcrow chief executive Peter Gammie said: “It is extremely regrettable that we have had to go down this route. Since the early days of the global economic downturn, we have worked hard to minimise the effect of recession on Halcrow. However, we can no longer sustain current staffing levels. This difficult decision was not made lightly and throughout the consultation period, we will make every possible effort to reduce the number of redundancies and assist where we can with people’s personal arrangements.
“As a business, we remain focused on our long-term well being and on our clients.”
Nationally, 269 people will be losing their jobs at Halcrow. The firm has now launched consultations with workers in an attempt to find voluntary redundancies.
Halcrow said that while there seemed to be recovery in the broader economy coming up, they believed the engineering consultancy sector would still be seeing reduced activity or further deterioration through into 2010 or beyond. This meant it was vital for the company to reduce its workforce immediately.
The jobs going at Worcester and Birmingham are largely within corporate services and the company’s water, power and consulting teams.
Halcrow was founded in 1868 and developed into one of the UK’s top consultancy firms. In UK industry league tables, it is ranked within the top 10 consultancies in each of its core sectors, and had a turnover of more than £460 million in 2008.
Earlier this year, it hit the headlines when it claimed Birmingham and the Black Country were the most at-risk areas from flooding because the decline of heavy industry meant groundwater levels were rising.
The research Halcrow carried out for the West Midlands Regional Assembly warned that Birmingham City Council needed to concentrate on reinstating floodplains rather than build on brown field land.