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Business Comment

Jim Armitage: Without a radical plan, BAE will lurch into a new crisis

Outlook Speaking of sorry times for manufacturers, BAE's elegantly political decision to slash dockyard jobs both north and south of the border creates a wider problem. Just what are we going to do with the 1,700 mostly skilled engineers soon to be unemployed?

One major Scottish employer closely connected to Holyrood predicted yesterday that many would now head overseas as there is not a manufacturing base in the UK strong enough to absorb them. As tens of thousands of former British military engineers working in foreign climes for the Siemens, Bombardiers and Lockheeds of this world will testify, they are in high demand elsewhere.

Another questioned why BAE has not diversified its excellent workforce into other lines. Knowing MoD spending is falling, it could turn to supplying kit for Scotland's oil and gas industry, or make Portsmouth a global engineering maintenance centre.

Without a radical plan to win new business, it's hard not to suspect that, in a decade or so, BAE and politicians will be having the same crisis talks about the next big round of cuts.