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Delays on education projects lead to job cuts at Atkins

Delays on educational projects have hit the UK operations of design and engineering consultancy Atkins which has just announced it is cutting five per cent of its global workforce.

The company said the 900 job losses were due to continuing market uncertainty in the Middle East and the UK including delays on projects being undertaken by the Learning and Skills Council.

The company’s interim management statement said performance had been good in the final quarter of 2008 and cash generation remained in line with expectations.

Atkins said being appointed as the official engineering design services provider for the London 2012 Olympic Games had failed to offset other problems in the UK market.

The statement said: “Our UK building design business, which represents approximately 2 per cent of the Group's revenue, has been severely impacted by general market conditions and the deferral of projects by the Learning and Skills Council.

“The results of this segment for the full year will therefore be adversely impacted by re-structuring costs.”

On the international front the company said: “Our Middle East business performed well until confidence in the region was significantly impacted by the global economic slow down.

“Whilst we are able to re-deploy staff across the region, we have also reduced staff numbers as the outlook remains uncertain. Our Europe and China businesses are making progress in line with our expectations, despite previously announced weakness in Ireland and Sweden.”

In January it emerged that the Learning and Skills Council was delaying a decision until March on projects at 22 further education colleges – part of a £2.3 billion capital building programme.

A source from Atkins, one of 18 practices on three regional LSC frameworks, told H&V News sister magazine AJ in January that firms could be forced to reduce their LSC teams.

The source said: “A lot of practices will struggle to keep their teams together. They cannot keep people sitting around doing nothing.”