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Former ASC boss to lead Holden jobs taskforce

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The State Government has appointed the former head of naval shipbuilder ASC to lead its Automotive Transformation Taskforce, as worsening unemployment figures highlight the challenge ahead for Adelaide’s northern suburbs.

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Steve Ludlam – chief executive of ASC from 2010 to 2014 – has been appointed chair of the taskforce, aimed at transitioning Holden workers and suppliers to new industries.

His appointment coincides with the release of new ABS figures today which show the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in South Australia rose from 6.8 per cent in April to 6.9 per cent in May.

It remains persistently the highest unemployment rate in the country, with the national figure holding steady at 5.7 per cent.

Minister for Automotive Transformation Kyam Maher said Ludlam would help to introduce automotive supply companies affected by Holden’s closure into the naval shipbuilding market.

“Mr Ludlam is the ideal person to lead the Automotive Transformation Taskforce as the Holden closure draws nearer, and to help supply chain companies diversify and take advantage of the opportunities set to be delivered by Adelaide’s naval shipbuilding future,” said Maher.

“During his time at ASC he restructured the company’s operations, and is widely credited for restoring efficiencies in the Collins-class submarine maintenance program.

“Before moving to Adelaide, Mr Ludlam was president of submarines at Rolls-Royce in the United Kingdom, where he successfully led the modernisation of the country’s submarine program.”

The taskforce has been developing programs to support workers and suppliers since Holden announced the closure of its Elizabeth plant, which will occur late next year.

Ludlam told InDaily this afternoon there would be many opportunities for former Holden workers with transferable skills to move into naval shipbuilding, but it wasn’t yet clear what proportion of those workers the industry would be able to employ.

“There’ll be great opportunities for the Holden workers [with] strong transferable skills,” he said.

Supervisors at Holden would be beneficial in helping organise the shipbuilding workforce, he said, and workers could become involved in production, planning and other roles in the industry.

“With some additional training, they [Holden workers] will fit into the workforce without any problem.”

He told InDaily the taskforce would also help ensure auto and components suppliers found new industries and markets as Holden winds down.

Premier Jay Weatherill announced Ludlam’s appointment during a “tele-town hall” discussing the Government’s Northern Economic Plan late yesterday.

Ludlam has also been named chair of the Northern Economic and Social Implementation Board, which advises the Government on its $24 million Northern Economic Plan, aimed at creating 15,000 jobs in Adelaide’s northern suburbs by 2025.

He is a current member of the Defence SA Advisory Board, advising the Government on defence industry policy.

Ludlam replaces inaugural Automotive Transformation Taskforce chair, former federal Labor minister Greg Combet, who stepped down from the role in March to become a lobbyist for the Victorian defence industry.

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