Hadley's comment: The Thomas Cook affair

We’re playing our part in a time of crisis, says Tom Hadley, REC director of policy and campaigns.

Over the last few months, we have been feeding into the government’s National Taskforce set up to support workers affected when travel firm Thomas Cook went into administration. The recruitment sector is playing a pivotal role in helping people transition into new jobs and different sectors; in an age of ongoing disruption we can expect the need to facilitate these transitions to intensify.

Over 9,000 workers were made redundant, in all regions and in the devolved nations, and particularly in the main office hubs in Peterborough, London and Manchester. The jobs lost ranged from cabin crew and pilots, to retail staff, engineers, IT, administrators and customer services. A number of key messages have emerged from our work with the government’s taskforce:

  • The sheer impact of redundancies on the mental wellbeing of workers and on their families can never be over-estimated. Many of the individuals affected had worked for Thomas Cook for many years, which compounded the shock and sense of loss.
  • Specialist recruiters have a big role to play in helping individuals to find new jobs and transition into other sectors. The series of jobs fairs for Thomas Cook staff were an opportunity for recruiters to help make a difference.
  • Many of the households affected by the administration had little or no savings, which makes earning money quickly an urgent priority. Within this context, agency work can provide a crucial bridge into the next permanent role.
  • Raising awareness of local jobs market trends and of latest hiring procedures are important elements of the support offering to workers. REC research and data will be used to help with this.
  • Many of the employees will not have had to look for work for many years. This underlined the need for practical guidance on how to navigate evolving hiring procedures, which recruitment professionals are uniquely placed to deliver.

The Thomas Cook administration came after other high-profile redundancies at Monarch, Carillion, BHS and Right Bus. Harnessing the contribution of recruitment professionals to help those affected is at the heart of the formal Partnership Agreement between the REC and the Department for Work & Pensions. The way our sector responds to a crisis and ongoing external challenges continues to be a powerful illustration of the recruitment industry’s contribution the UK economy and labour market.

You can follow Tom on Twitter @hadleyscomment

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