What is Happening to Laid-off Manufacturing Workers?

The CAW have released the preliminary results of  a tracking survey following the fortunes of 2600 auto industry workers laid off in the early days of or even before the Great Recession. The major focus is on the services received at Action Centres providing some access to re-employment and training  opportunities.

Written by Sam Vrankulj of McMaster University, the study focuses on the experience of manufacturing workers struggling with unemployment during the worst recession since the 1930s. It examines the various challenges in finding new employment and retraining; the impacts on workers health and well being and the role of action centres in providing critical supports.

Some key findings:

· This is still a very difficult labour market. Only 24% of the participants were working at the time of the survey. Of this group, approximately 70% were employed in part-time, temporary or more precarious forms of work. Just 39% found their new jobs in manufacturing while the other 61% were working in other sectors.

· When workers get adequate income and tuition support they take advantage of retraining opportunities after job loss. Otherwise, the financial obstacles are too great. There were 90% of study participants who enrolled for upgrading or retraining who identified the level of income support and the cost of tuition as the most important factors enabling that enrollment.

· Workers report high levels of satisfaction with the unique services provided by action centres and peer helpers. They offer a wide range of supports, both formal and informal, to meet the needs of laid off workers – including job search, retraining, financial, personal and social needs.

· More targeted supports are needed to address the multiple obstacles faced by laid off workers who are older, women, immigrants or who lack strong literacy skills.

The study was initiated by CAW with funding approved in the adjustment contract between CAW, Chrysler Canada and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

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