Aycliffe Today Business PNE1578_AycliffeTodayBusiness_Issue28_WEBhighres - Page 5

The magazine for Aycliffe Business Park | 5 /NEWS /ADVICE BREXIT: THE FUTURE OF EU WORKERS WITHIN SMES Hitachi begins work on Virgin Trains’ Azuma fleet Virgin Trains’ customers are a step closer to new trains as work begins on the Azuma (Class 800) fleet, due to enter service on the east coast in 2018. Work on the bodyshells is taking place in Kasado, Japan, before the trains arrive in the UK to be built by Hitachi’s manufacturing team in Newton Aycliffe. Hitachi’s UK train manufacturing team on Aycliffe Business Park is now home to over 900 employees including more than 50 apprentices. UK build work on the Virgin Azuma will begin this summer. The Virgin Azuma will transform travel and customer experiences when it arrives on the east coast main line next year. The fleet of 65 trains will provide an extra 12,200 seats, and faster journeys will make direct routes to new destinations such as London-Middlesbrough possible, as well as a big increase in through services from London to places such as Bradford, Harrogate and Lincoln. Hitachi Rail managing director Karen Boswell said: “The new Azuma fleet will be a combination of Japanese design and British manufacturing. “The trains are built using Japanese bullet train technology, world famous for its quality and reliability.” David Horne, managing director of Virgin Trains on the east coast, said: “We are very excited to be moving closer to the day when our fantastic new train comes into service. “The arrival of Azuma in 2018 will mark another milestone on our journey towards totally transforming travel for our customers, and the work happening now in Kasado and beginning in the summer at Newton Aycliffe are important steps on that journey.” Meanwhile, new Intercity Express trains built in Aycliffe have already completed their first journey in ahead of entering passenger service later this year. Hitachi successfully ran the test train along the Great Western main line to Wales. 100 jobs saved at Compound Photonics facility Around 100 jobs have been secured after a US firm completed the purchase of the Compound Photonics factory in Newton Aycliffe. Kaiam Corporation, a US maker of datacentre transceivers, has acquired the manufacturing facilities at the Aycliffe Business Park site. The acquisition includes investment by Compound Photonics into Kaiam to further develop the factory, which was formerly home to RFMD and Fujitsu. Kaiam is a private company founded in 2009 and makes hybrid photonic integrated circuit (PIC) technology for pluggable optical transceivers in data-centres. The Newton Aycliffe facility will enable Kaiam to significantly increase its manufacturing capacity for silica-on-silicon planar lightwave circuits (PLCs) and 40Gb/s and 100Gb/s transceivers, and adds both electronic and optoelectronic compound semiconductor devices to the firm’s product line. The acquisition brings new space, tooling and an experienced team to complement and expand on Kaiam’s existing large- scale manufacturing facility in Livingston, Scotland. The new facility also allows Kaiam to produce indium phosphide (InP) photonic integrated circuits that will be needed for advanced transceivers in the future. The 300,000 sq ft Aycliffe site includes a fully operational wafer fab with 100,000 sq ft of cleanroom space for processing, packaging, and testing III-V devices. Kaiam CEO Bardia Pezeshki said: “The Newton Aycliffe facility is a strategic acquisition that gives us both increased manufacturing scale and vertical integration. “This new facility will give us this essential PIC capability, positioning us well to meet our customers’ needs for continuously improving speed, cost, power, density, and manufacturing scale.” Many UK businesses are finding themselves in ‘limbo’ following the triggering of Article 50 on March 29, marking the beginning of the UK’s departure from the EU. According to the latest research from the Federation of Small Businesses, over half of small businesses with EU workers are worried about accessing people with the right skills, or growing their business post-Brexit. Many employers are asking themselves: What will happen to my workforce? How can I protect my workforce? Should I recruit an EU citizen now? How can I maintain my business’ growth? Imagi ne, you have just opened a brand new Hotel and 90% of your staff are from the EU– the Government pass policy that you can only retain 45% of your EU workforce due to a push on employing UK nationals – what can you do? Answers remain unclear, but what is clear is that businesses must ready themselves for a new way of recruiting EU workers post-Brexit, if at all. Currently, employers are free to recruit EU citizens living within the UK and abroad due to the right of free movement enjoyed by EU citizens, however when the UK leaves the EU, this right of free movement will no longer be automatic. No doubt there will be a transitional period for workers and even special provisions for those who have worked in the UK long term, but with the number of EU workers in the UK at over two million, SMEs need to know they can utilise this pool of workers and employ the right people. SMEs should continue to recruit EU citizens with the hope that Government will implement sensible transitional arrangements, phasing the implementation of a new immigration system slowly to ensure SMEs can flourish in a post-Brexit Britain. If you’re an SME and need advice on current employees or future recruits speak to our Business Immigration specialists within our Employment team. Jessica Main Corporate Commercial Department Endeavour Partnership