Rover staff are urged to find a job in the classroom

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The Independent Online

Redundant workers from the giant Rover car plant at Longbridge could be retrained as teachers, an Education minister said yesterday.

Estelle Morris said the Teacher Training Agency would work with a Government task force to help find new work for staff who lost their jobs because of BMW's decision to sell the factory. Thousands of people could face redundancy under plans to transfer the plant, which makes the Rover 25, 45 and 75 models, to Alchemy, a venture capital group.

Ms Morris, the MP for Yardley in Birmingham, said she hoped staff from the plant would take up opportunities for on-the-job teacher training,to be backed by £13,000-a-year training salaries. She said: "I think there are real opportunities there. I have been speaking to Ralph Tabberer, the chief executive of the Teacher Training Agency, and he has made contact with the task force in Birmingham. The people at Longbridge have a range of skills that could be useful in primary or secondary schools."

A spokesman for the car company welcomed the statement. He said: "Any positive move to put people who might eventually end up unemployed into well paid and interesting work is a good thing."

But Julie Kirkbride, the Tory MP for Bromsgrove, said: "It's pretty extraordinary for a Government which says it wants to keep manufacturing based at Longbridge to turn round and say that the workers should become teachers. Teachers do a great job but people who work in manufacturing careers probably want to stay there."

Ms Morris, who was attending the annual conference of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, also announced £60m to refurbish science laboratories after Ofsted inspectors reported that 700 secondary schools' science facilities were inadequate to teach the national curriculum.