Jobs bombshell casts shadow over Ipswich

POWERGEN'S jobs bombshell is today casting a huge shadow over the jobs market in Ipswich.The 700 jobs being lost among former TXU staff is just over one per cent of the 67,000 jobs in the town – but employers and agencies are hopeful that they should be absorbed within the area.

By Paul Geater

POWERGEN'S jobs bombshell is today casting a huge shadow over the jobs market in Ipswich.

The 700 jobs being lost among former TXU staff is just over one per cent of the 67,000 jobs in the town – but employers and agencies are hopeful that they should be absorbed within the area.

Ipswich council's economic development department has been busy trying to paint a bright picture of the local economy.

And there are some bright spots among the gloom.

Insurance giant Churchill has created hundreds of new jobs in its new offices in the town and in its subsidiary Devitts.

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Over the last few years it has brought 400 jobs to the town, and took Anglia Countrywide which was already established in Ipswich.

The founder of Anglia Countrywide, Graeme Kalbraier, has since launched another insurance company – Direct Motorline.

"We are still recruiting, and the insurance industry in the town is very bouyant," Mr Kalbraier said.

"From the TXU employees' point of view, there should be jobs available to them – it is certainly a benefit to them that they won't all be going at once.

"Most of the TXU employees have been in the town for a long time and have strong connections with the area and will be looking around here.

"From that point of view they are quite lucky they are in Ipswich – the jobs should be able to be abosorbed in the local economy."

And Mr Kalbraier said it was important that Powergen's decision was not seen as a reflection on Ipswich.

"This was a commercial decision based on their national view – nothing to do with the quality of the workforce in Ipswich.

"They should be able to find new work in the area with very few problems," he added.

Another success story has been Town and Country Assistance, which has seen its employee numbers increase from 50 to 165 over recent years as turnover increases by 500 per cent.

The success of insurance "newcomers" has contrasted with a contraction by some of the larger names in the industry.

Axa – which took over Guardian Royal Exchange four years ago – has seen its presence in Ipswich contract.

There have been no widespread redundancies, but a steady contraction over the years has seen its presence at the huge Civic Drive offices shrink.

Half of the office block is currently occupied by TXU staff – but that will be empty by the end of the year.

High technology industries have not been immune from the harsh economic climate – despite the much-heralded IP-City initiative promoted by Ipswich Council with support from industry.

One of its cornerstones, Agilent on the Whitehouse Industrial Estate, announced 165 redundancies in 2001, and has never filled a controversial huge extension it built overlooking the Ipswich by-pass.

Other sectors on the up in the town include construction – on the Ravenswood development and waterfront – and the new start-up businesses around the Waterfront area in Felaw Maltings.

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