Jonathan Shaw talks to students from Downside Middle School, clockwise from bottom right, youth worker Rachel Prewer, Ryan Silverthorne, ten, Charlotte Abbott, ten, Jack Janvrin, nine, Charlie Kellaway, nine, Bryany Carter, ten and Kirsty Appel, ten.
THE government minister who set up the rapid response team to deal with the loss of 600 Vestas jobs came to the Island this week to review its performance.
He spoke to those who have still to find work after the closure of Vestas Blades UK, at Newport, and those who have got jobs or places on re-training courses.
Minister for the South East Jonathan Shaw went to Newport’s JobcentrePlus and to Pan’s Isobel Centre to hear about community consultation for the new Pan Village.
Mr Shaw first came to the Island in May when Vestas announced the shut-down. He then announced the set-up of the taskforce that pulled all the job finding and training agencies together to help Vestas workers.
At GKN Aerospace on Wednesday, he met some of the 50 former Vestas employees who have found work at East Cowes. There, after its own traumatic 650 redundancies of seven years ago, it has built-up to a workforce of 1,200, with a turnover of £160 million last year.
GKN shopfloor workers Louise Hale, 41, from Binstead, and 25-year-old Gareth White, from Ryde, came to the company from the Vestas shutdown. They were among those who met the minister.
Mr Shaw said: "In Southampton, I met those on the aluminium welding course that is equipping 24 ex-Vestas employees with skills that we are short of in the shipbuilding industry in the south.
"Government invested £250,000 in that and £6 million in the new Vestas research and development facility at Newport that keeps Vestas on the Island. It will have the potential to develop the blades for the UK and European markets that could again, in the future, be produced on the Island.
"We are doing our best but we can’t find jobs for everybody from a closure that has taken £20 million out of the Island’s economy."
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