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Cardiff Steel Research Programme

The Cardiff Steel Research Programme brings together a range of research projects about the steel industry. This programme of research began in 2000 and is led by Professor Peter Fairbrother (Centre for Global Labour Research) and Dr Dean Stroud (Regenerations Institute).  The focus of the research programme is on a number of different but inter-linked sector issues, including: workforce reconfiguration and the equal opportunities implications; processes of restructuring and redundancy; skills and training needs; and trade union approaches and strategies toward steel sector developments, including workplace training and learning. These themes have been studied with reference to the Welsh steel industry, the UK, the EU and most recently in relation to international developments.

The Programme comprises a set of projects and has resulted in a range of publications and presentations:

Research Projects

  • The ‘New Steel Industry Challenges’ project was funded by the EU under the Leonardo da Vinci programme, and investigated skill and training needs in the European steel industry between 2001 and 2004 (Leonardo Da Vinci, UK/00/B/F/pp-129 016).
  • The ‘Workplace Education: Exploring the efficacy of workplace learning strategies and the potential for poorly qualified employees’ engagement with new learning opportunities’ was funded by the Nuffield Foundation between 2003 and 2004, and explored the potential for engaging poorly qualified steelworkers in learning opportunities in the UK.
  • The ‘Equality and Diversity Learning in the European Steel Industry’ project was funded by the EU under the Leonardo da Vinci programme, and investigated developments in workforce composition and the equal opportunities implications of change and the potential for change in the industry’s socio-demographic profile.( Leonardo da Vinci, UK/00/B/F/pp-129 016,)
  • Researching Mass Redundancy: The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) funded a study into the likely consequences of the closure of the Corus plant at Ebbw Vale (Fairbrother and Morgan, 2001). This was followed by a follow-up programme on the experience of redundancy and life after redundancy. The first stage of this research was ‘The Experience of Redundant Steel Workers’, May 2002 – December 2003. It was followed by an ESRC funded project ‘Regenerating Identities: Subjectivity in transition in a South Wales workforce, ESRC (RES-148-25-0033, 1 November 2004 – 31 July 2007 (Valerie Walkerdine and Peter Fairbrother).
  • Local Unions and Multinational Corporate Decisions: A study was conducted of the industrial action taken by steel workers protesting at the closure of part of the AST ThyssenKrupp Stahl plant in Terni, Italy. This was conducted at the request of Istituto Per la Cultura e la Storia d’Impresa (ICSIM), a local education and research centre.
  • Workplace Learning: An on-going study for the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded research centre ‘Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance’ (SKOPE) looks at ‘The Practices and Processes of Workplace Learning in the British steel industry’.
  • The British Steel Industry: A study and report of alternative plans for the British steel industry, commissioned by the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation


Publications and Presentations