Unite Scotland has today (Saturday 4 September) demanded immediate action to support highly-skilled aerospace engineering workers formerly employed by Rolls Royce. Around 700 jobs were lost at the aerospace engineering Inchinnan plant following an announcement last June.

Research by leading academics (see notes to editors) was initiated in September-October 2021 which has now concluded involving 172 former Rolls Royce workers. The survey responses give a statistically significant sample size and highlight a number of employment, financial and health challenges facing the former Rolls Royce workers.

The survey further highlights that despite promises by the Scottish government of a ‘green jobs’ bonanza the former Rolls Royce workers face ‘frustration’ in regard to available job opportunities in green energies, and that the skills of the workers are being under-utilised and at risk of being lost to the Scottish economy.

The research has concluded, the following:

  • Only 12%, just 1 in 8 of those made redundant, reported equivalent or increased use of skills developed at Rolls Royce. Overall, there was a ‘clear trend towards deskilling’.
  • Among the minority of respondents who had found work, the overwhelming majority, 4 out of 5 (82%), reported a significant reduction in income with 65% experiencing an annual income reduction of £10,000 or more and 24% experiencing a reduction of £20,000 or more. Shockingly, almost a third (28%) of those made redundant reported having no income at all.
  • The survey captured the scale of the ‘psychological and social costs’ of the redundancies. Although many preferred not to say, around half (47%) of the survey respondents reported that they had suffered mental health issues as a direct result of the redundancies. The majority (52%) also reported that they were fearful or very fearful for their employment futures.
  • Those that wished to work in renewable energy spoke of a need for experience in maintenance and operations coupled with a notable lack of jobs. Engineers who paid for and successfully undertook Global Wind Organisation (GWO) training in order to gain work in this sector had been unable to find employment.
  • The research demonstrates that the majority of workers who lost their jobs at Inchinnan were unable to find alternative employment that has matched, or enhanced, their engineering skills.
  • In July 2020, Unite also commissioned a report produced by the nation’s leading economic research institute Strathclyde University’s Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI) following a spate of redundancy consultations and voluntary severance schemes at Rolls Royce (Inchinnan), GE Caledonian, Spirit Aerosystems and Wyman Gordon. The FAI then estimated that the total impact of the 1,225 proposed job losses at these companies including spill-over effects is associated with a £185m loss in Gross Value Added and a decrease in employment of 2,530 across the Scottish economy.

Pat Rafferty, Unite Scottish Secretary, added: “The Scottish Government has been severely found wanting in regard to supporting an infrastructure that will allow those former Rolls Royce engineers to fully utilise their skills for the benefit of the Scottish economy. The societal, employment, financial and psychological costs are brought fully to the fore in this excellent research. Once again, we are on the brink of losing the skills of some of the most outstanding engineers in the world.”

“What this new research has discovered is that the vast majority of Rolls Royce workers who have left Inchinnan remain fearful of their futures, they are unable to find suitable work which matches their skills, and many are enduring major reductions in their household incomes. We urge the Scottish Government to sit up and take note of the research findings and work with us to find suitable employment for not only the benefit of the workers, but for the benefit of our nation.”

Professor Alan McKinlay said: "Rolls Royce has been the jewel in the crown of Scottish engineering for many decades. Rolls Royce produced highly skilled engineers as well as world-leading aero engines. The Inchinnan workers were - and still are - highly skilled, adaptable and innovative. The workers who have left Rolls Royce are an important resource for Scottish manufacturing as a whole: it is imperative that their skills are fully used. Instead, our research found that alarming number of these workers have not found employment or jobs that do not fully use their skills. These are the skills that we desperately need to deliver the green industrial revolution. These skills are too important to all of us to be squandered."


Notes to editors:

  • The research was conducted by Ewan Gibbs (1), Ewan Mackenzie (2), Alan McKinlay (2), Des McNulty (1), Jim Phillips (1) and Stephen Procter (2), University of Glasgow (1), and Newcastle University (2).
  • Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with around 150,000 members. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty.