Former Longbridge worker Tony Dudley hit rock bottom when he lost his job after 15 years as MG Rover crashed - but now he’s back on the road to success.

Former panelbeater Tony spent four months on the dole before remortgaging his home to launch a sportscar restoration business in Worcester. Together with former colleague Dave Chappell, he launched MGR Services in Northfield, initially doing repair and maintenance work for Rovers and MGs.

The business diversified into other makes and now Tony is helping local teenagers gain a foot on the ladder as trainee mechanics. In conjunction with the Government’s Connexions organisation, Tony has taken on youngsters for Saturday work, providing a 12-week course in basic mechanical skills.

He has already helped find four teenagers their first jobs - and recently completed a second course with another group of four. “Because these youngsters are not old enough to claim the dole, I try to give them work experience,” he said.

“It is organised through Connexions - the youngsters do two hours on a Saturday for 12 weeks and gain very good experience. Last year, we had five lads and one girl and four have got jobs. They don’t get paid - they come voluntarily to us - but they get very good experience.”

Tony, who now runs MGR Services with wife Kay and Rob Fisher after Dave left, paid tribute to Northfield MP Richard Burden for helping the business. “He has been very good to us, supporting us and recommending us and we look after his own cars.,” he said.

“Setting up the business was a big risk but we’re satisfied. We’re even doing quite well out of the downturn. People are not buying new cars, they’re tending to hang onto old ones.”

Finding rewarding employment has been one of the major issues facing the 6,300 people who lost their jobs following the collapse of MG Rover in April 2005.

According to a study, while 90 per cent have gone on to find new work, thousands have had to take pay cuts amounting on average to £6,000 per year.

The research, by Birmingham Business School and the Work Foundation, found that about 30 per cent had managed to stay in the manufacturing sector and had largely kept their pay at a similar level. But the majority, who moved into the service sector, were earning far less. People who found work in wholesale and retail, real estate and business services, education, and health and social work saw the largest cut in salary.

David Bailey, the director of Birmingham Business School and one of the authors of the report, said: “The collapse of Rover marked the closure of the last volume carmaker In the UK. The finding that many workers are in what they see as worse jobs may confirm the view that the ‘newer’ jobs are just not quite as good as the ‘older’ jobs in manufacturing they replace, though there are significant numbers doing rather better than they were.

“However, it needs to be borne in mind just how calamitous the sudden arrival of very large numbers of skilled, unemployed people could have been for the region. For almost all the workers to be in work three years on must count as the central positive finding.”