Research In Motion is working with the Ontario provincial government, Communitech and two Waterloo universities to provide some practical assistance to some of the laid-off technology sector workers in RIM’s hometown.
RIM is behind a “restructuring process” that will see at least 5,000 workers lose their jobs with the company.
In a news release, the Ontario government, RIM, Communitech, the University of Waterloo, and Wilfred Laurier University introduced a plan to provide more spaces in entrepreneurial and business programs at the schools and an “action centre” that will help provide counselling for the unemployed and services to assist in locating new jobs.
In that the region from Kitchener to Waterloo is heavily involved in the tech sector, it stands to reason that RIM’s eventual collapse will hit the people there hard. There are a number of small start-ups in the area and larger tech businesses like Open Text Corp.
RIM is, without a doubt, the straw the stirs the drink in Waterloo. It employs about 9,000 people and is in the middle of looking for about $1 billion in savings by the end of the current fiscal year. Last summer, RIM laid off about 2,000 people.
The 5,000 layoffs are expected to hit the global employee base of RIM, but the downsizing process has to hit the home base and the ripple effect will be significant. The bulk of RIM’s workers are housed in Waterloo, outweighing the potential impact felt in offices in Singapore and London.
“We genuinely recognize the human element here,” RIM’s managing director for Canada Andrew MacLeod said. “We recognize there’s stress on our employees, their families and the community as a whole.”
This is a good move for RIM, both ethically and financially. By stressing that they understand the “human element” of this round of layoffs, RIM illustrates that they “care.” It may not be the most altruistic of gestures and the “action centre” may be soft consolation for the workers thrust out employment in tough economic times, but it could prove helpful for some.
RIM has asserted that there will be no layoffs at any areas that are experiencing “strong growth,” adding that they won’t be laying off any part of the company working on the delayed BlackBerry 10.