Around 900 workers in a technology factory facing closure later this year could receive job training as they continue to put in shifts, it emerged today.
Staff and management at the Seagate factory in Limavady discussed the plan with Stormont Employment and Learning Minister Reg Empey when he visited them.
The Ulster Unionist leader, who also met local businessmen and political representatives, also revealed plans for up to three job fairs to help employees at the doomed plant find work.
“We are in a unique situation where the factory is busier than ever before,” the East Belfast MLA said after his visit to the factory.
“People are working flat out and production will carry on right up to the closure of the plant.
“What we would like to do is start giving people training in parallel with the work they are doing but that is very much up to the company as we try to seek investment.”
There were shockwaves throughout the province when the American firm Seagate announced last October it was closing its Limavady plant and moving the computer components operation to Malaysia.
The closure of the firm will not only effect employees situated in towns and villages throughout Co Derry but also across the border in Co Donegal as well as suppliers.
The minister said management told him training needs analysis for the workforce began two weeks ago, with the company undertaking an audit of their employees’ skills and interests during 40 minute interviews.
“We are looking at least two job fairs, maybe a third with one happening on the company’s premises,” he said.
“In our discussions with the Mayor of Limavady Edwin Stevenson and the council we were keen to secure their co-operation for that because not only has this had an impact on those employed at Seagate but a whole load of small companies are in severe difficulties as well and will be in trouble when the company closes.
“I was very impressed with the presentation from the employees forum at the factory.
“One of the issues they raised was the issue of Invest Northern Ireland funds being clawed back from the company and reinvested in the area.
“It is my understanding that goes into central pot but we need to get a potential investor in the area.”
Minister Empey also met representatives from Roe Valley Chamber of Commerce and Ulster Unionist Assembly colleague David McClarty.