ABSTRACT

Regional development studies have become increasingly concerned with the economic and social impact of reductions in defence expenditure on dependent local economies (Gripaios and Gripaios, 1994; CEC, 1992). As Nick Hooper and Barbara Butler (1996) recently noted, the "rationalisation" of the defence industries in Britain following the end of the Cold War is estimated to have lead to the loss of some 200,000 jobs in defence contractors and that 'many of these jobs are highly skilled, including R&D and design teams which have in the past been responsible for maintaining and developing a large part of the national technological base'. As they point out, 'Very little is known about what happens to these workers and their skills when defence expenditure falls and jobs are lost' (ibid., p. 149). This chapter tries to provide some answers to the latter question by drawing on a survey of former workers at Swan Hunter's shipyard on the Tyne (see Tomaney et al., 1999). The collapse of the Swan Hunter shipyard in 1993, following its failure to win a key Ministry of Defence order, was a dramatic event which won international attention. This chapter reports the results of a survey of the experiences of former Swan Hunter Workers undertaken in 1995, two years after the receivers were called in. 1