Some of Britain's hardpressed industrialists are trying to help local authorities boost employment prospects in regionally depressed trades by giving free use of empty offices and factory space under an Enterprise Trust program.
The Enterprise Trust project, which operates in London, Birmingham, Merseyside, and West Scotland, is an attempt to contain unemployment in the black spots and create new jobs with loans of premises and equipment from large companies to small groups of work people. The Enterprise Trust is sponsored by businessmen and supplements similar rent-free facilities offered by civic bodies and private firms that own unused working areas. The trust seeks to encourage unemployed workers with self-help developments.
The Merseyside and Liverpool areas in northwest England, where unemployment has reached 16 and 24 percent of the population in some localities, might gain some relief from the new business venture. But the trust's sponsors concede that the overall impact on jobless totals will be small. Yet the giant ICI company, which pioneered many extra apprenticeship opportunities in Newcastle some years ago, has joined Shell Oil, British Stee, and the Scottish Development Agency with an initial L100,000 fund ($188,000) designed to give fresh impetus to the creation of small businesses in west Scotland.
Despite the peaking oil developments in the North Sea -- and production may start a significant fall in the mid-1980s -- britain's petroleum recovery business is not producing nearly enough jobs to hold back the ever rising level of unemployment. New petroleum refineries about 80 miles north of Edinburgh have brought much work to building trade employees. But Burmah Oil is closing its Ellesmere Port plant on Merseyside and ending the jobs of 1,100 workers.
The Burmah closure, which is the latest in a long list of industrial casualties, has caused particular concern because it is a serious setback in a growth industry, an indication of how the current economic slump has led to less industrial demand for British oil.
Opinion is divided in Britain about the trends of the recession. Some predict 3 million unemployed by 1982 and others forecast a substantia l increase in business activity.