Workers at a Birmingham manufacturer, whose jobs were threatened by the collapse of MG Rover, have been taking part in a new training scheme which could help thousands of others facing redundancy.
Twelve staff at WH Smith & Sons in Minworth have been supported by Skills4Auto, the Midland spoke of the Automotive Academy in a pilottraining project, which could now be rolled out across Britain.
WH Smith, which employs around 400 people, applied for a business -support package in place for companies in the MG Rover supply-chain when the Longbridge carmaker collapsed.
The MG Rover Task Force established the £ 20 million Advantage Transition Bridge Fund to help suppliers and dealers affected. The bid was successful and the company now receives a five-week wage subsidy for the 50 affected workers.
The grant is intended to provide the company with breathing space in the short term and, in the longer term, help to develop new opportunities.
Managing director Colin Sarson said: "They have been learning businessimprovement techniques, such as reducing waste, improving quality and therefore increasing profits."
Meanwhile, the University of Warwick Science Park has passed the halfcentury landmark in helping firms to secure investment under the Rover Task Force. The Park has secured 50 separate investments totalling £3.5 million for 27 companies in the region.
The money has been granted through AWM and European funding since 2003 after the original Rover Task Force was set up in 2000.
In Bromsgrove and Redditch alone, there are 949 job losses from the Rover collapse. Now North East Worcestershire College has been tasked by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Learning and Skills Council in conjunction with Solihull and Birmingham LSC to develop and implement free, specially-funded training to assist those affected.