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300 jobs at risk at IT firm
THREE hundred jobs are being axed at schools technology firm RM Education.
The firm, which has its headquarters at Milton Park, near Didcot, is currently in talks with staff in what is the second major round of redundancies in two years.
But bosses have denied that there are any plans to close down the company’s operations in the county where it was founded 40 years ago – and have not said whether the majority of the jobs will go locally.
Before the axe first fell in 2011, RM was the 12th largest employer in the county, with more than 1,200 employees. By last year, that had fallen to 960.
Commercial managing director Mike Allen said: “It is a very difficult time. It comes as a shock to us all to potentially see colleagues leaving the business.
“But now it is about securing the long-term future of the business for the majority of people.”
The decision follows the revelation that RM was making 300 redundancies in September 2011, 240 of which were at Milton Park, prompting remaining staff to move out of one of the three buildings.
Asked whether RM Education now planned to shut down its Milton Park operation altogether, Mr Allen added: “That is not true.”
But he was unable to say how many staff remained in Oxfordshire, saying only it was “in the hundreds,” while he admitted that whether the business remained in one or two buildings on Milton Park was also under review.
A company statement said a review of the education technology business had been completed.
And it means a decision has been made to stop selling computers and reduce associated sales and marketing activities. It will instead focus on developing software.
In the last couple of years, RM Education has been hit hard by the scaling down of the last Labour government’s Building Schools for the Future programme.
It was scrapped by the coalition Government when it came to power – taking £40m out of RM’s forward order book.
As a result, the firm said revenues in the education technology business had been cut by 50 per cent.
Business leaders in Oxfordshire said the news was “disappointing.”
Bob Bradley, president of the Oxfordshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is a symptom of worldwide global change from traditional computers to mobile telephones and tablets, while the change of Government affected the Building Schools for the Future programme.
“But perhaps there is a silver lining as the economy is picking up and a lot of IT firms are finding it difficult to find staff. Hopefully these people will be re-employed quickly.”
The firm was founded by entrepreneurs Mike Fischer and Mike O’Regan in 1973 to supply electrical components for people interested in computers as a hobby.
It went on to become a multi-million pound business after it began selling computers to schools in 1977.
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