A UNION has called on the Government to support high-skilled workers after 700 jobs were axed at a Rolls Royce plant in Renfrew.

Earlier this year more than half the workforce was cut at the Inchinnan factory, mainly through voluntary redundancies. 

A survey of 100 of the former employees, commissioned by Unite Scotland, showed that almost two-thirds of the employee were still out of work.

And of those who managed to secure employment, only 41% believed they were using their full range of skills. 

 Pat Rafferty, Unite Scottish secretary, said: “Rolls Royce engineers are widely recognised to be highly skilled, highly experienced and amongst the most outstanding engineering workforces in the UK.

"What this new research has discovered is that the vast majority of Rolls Royce workers who have left Inchinnan remain out of work with most of them remaining fearful for their future employment prospects.

"Importantly, there is a desire by those who have left Rolls Royce to move into the renewables sector."

READ MORE: Bongo's Bingo announce lots of Glasgow dates for indoor shows at SWG3

But the highly-skilled aerospace engineering workers may need to be retrained in new skills to shift to new sectors, Unite Scotland has claimed.

The union's Scottish secretary added: "However, this requires two fundamental elements which is jobs actually being created in the renewables sector in particular through the manufacturing of wind turbines, and skills transition support.

"On these specific issues the Scottish Government’s record has been absolutely abject and they need to urgently intervene to provide concrete support for workers who have lost their jobs.

"If they do not then this research illustrates that there is a real danger these crucial skills will be lost forever.” 

Professor Alan McKinlay, who helped conduct the research, said: "The decision of Rolls Royce, with very limited warning, has forced them to seek alternative employment in the worst economic crisis of the last forty years.

"If the specialist capability of this workforce is lost and people are obliged to pick up work wherever they can find, if indeed they can, then Scotland’s capacity in the highly skilled engineering sector will be much reduced and might never recover. “ 

A spokewoman for Rolls Royce explained that the company is working closely with the Scottish Government through the Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) programme to help the former workers secure new employment. 

She said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on our business and we are making tough decisions in Inchinnan and around the world to secure our future.

"In Inchinnan, employees who have left us have gone on to secure roles at companies in Scotland such as BAE Systems, Babcock and Leonardo’s.

“Finally, we’re offering a “bridging” pension option, to help those who are close to retirement do so earlier than planned.

"In Inchinnan, more than half of our voluntary leavers are over the age of 51, which is generally the Rolls-Royce pensionable age."

The spokeswoman added: "The uncertainty our people have faced this year has been incredibly difficult for them, their families and the local community in Inchinnan.

"These decisions are not easy, and we are committed to meaningful consultation on our proposals.

"We will continue to work with trade unions, employee representatives and local stakeholders, as well as the Scottish Government.”