When Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) said it was creating 1,000 jobs, more than 6,000 applications were received within 24 hours. Now, JLR has 35,000 applications.
This is a classic good news/bad news story. The good news is that JLR is the place everyone wants to work. The Halewood factory offers secure, decently paid employment in a good working environment. We visited last year and it was as clean and orderly as an operating theatre. The bad news is that it clearly shows just how big a jobs shortage there is, especially in the North-West.
Still, it means JLR gets to pick the cream of the crop. The company uses pretty sophisticated tests for applicants, and recently recruited workers advise applicants to take care. The apparently simple questions are nothing of the sort: one worker has said that you really need to think about what lies behind the question. Unlike him, all his friends thought the questions were easy – and they failed to get the jobs.
JLR is now far and away the biggest private sector employer in the region, although prospects for yet more jobs at Halewood in the future are probably not great. After the current recruitment campaign, the factory will be running 24 hours a day at full capacity. More jobs would require a major expansion of the production facilities, which would be a massive investment. In the long-term, the JLR plan is to add capacity via a factory in China, which should be on stream by 2015.