Professor David Blackaby, of WISERD Swansea and Swansea University, has been interviewed by the South Wales Evening Post about job cuts by Tata.
The steel company announced last Friday (23rdNovember) that 500 mainly white collar jobs would be lost at the steel plant in Port Talbot.
In the interview Professor Blackaby stated that, although jobs are not easy to come by, they are out there for the hundreds of outgoing Tata staff, but at markedly lower salaries.
“A fairly recent study found that people usually took a 39 per cent cut in salary (at their new job) — and that was across the board,” he said.
“We know that traditional steelworkers are paid relatively high wages for their skills base, although these are mostly admin jobs.
“It’s going to be hard to find replacement jobs.”
Professor Blackaby said that every month in the UK around 400,000 people found or lost a job — what he described as “the churn” in the labour market.
Tata until recently employed around 19,000 staff in the UK, including 3,500 people in Port Talbot and around 750 people at Trostre.
The Economist, in a report on the UK steel industry released this month, pointed to grounds for optimism though, citing Tata’s £185million blast furnace, which is due to be completed next month, and the presence of some 380million tonnes of coking coal that lies beneath the plant, which Tata is investigating with a view to possible extraction.
Professor Blackaby said the steel sector had seen “massive redundancies” in decades gone by but, while feeling great sympathy for the Tata staff affected by the job cuts, he said the blast furnace investment was a positive sign.
“While it’s tragic for individuals, Tata operates in competition and they have to be cost efficient,” he said.
“The fact that Tata invested shows that they saw a future for Welsh plants. The fact that they invested in something that’s going to last 10, even more years is a positive thing.”