Axle maker fires – then hires

Axle manufacturer Dana is to recruit 60 staff after transporting an entire factory from Germany to its site in Leeds. The US-based corporation bought the plant and machinery from engineering giant Thyssen and drove it to the UK on a fleet of 120 lorries at a cost of £4m. But last week the firm laid […]

Axle manufacturer Dana is to recruit 60 staff after transporting an entire factory from Germany to its site in Leeds.

The US-based corporation bought the plant and machinery from engineering giant Thyssen and drove it to the UK on a fleet of 120 lorries at a cost of £4m. But last week the firm laid off 56 of its existing 500 staff because of the recession.

Personnel and training officer Phillip Almond said recruitment for the new plant would continue, but admitted the investment could have been better timed. ‘We have been feeling some pain since about April last year,’ said Almond.

The transported factory’s forge will not begin production until the second half of 1999.

About a dozen staff are to transfer to the new site. It is expected to produce £10m in components annually, 90% of which will be exported.

Almond said Dana had not seen evidence of skills shortages in the UK but ‘we have had to trawl a little further afield for staff this time. In the past, for our forging division we have recruited from Sheffield, which is just half an hour down the road.’ But he did not expect difficulties recruiting staff. Government figures show engineering firms face the biggest skills shortages for a decade.

‘We will need an extra 60 staff, mainly technical people, but some in the finishing trades,’ said Almond. ‘About 25 to 30 plant operatives are needed as well.’

Almond said staff would receive multi-skilling training so they would be able to work in the forge and the axle manufacturing area of the site.

‘We have to find the right kind of person to train up,’ he said. ‘We are using an engineering training centre in Leeds to help us find the right people. We are then identifying key people on site who can lead training for the new recruits.’

Dana took over the Leeds site from UK engineering group GKN three years ago.

John Robinson writes for Personnel Today magazine