You name it, and they are walking in. They are pretty much all very well-educated, global company experience, white collar workers
WATERLOO, Ont. — Former employees of Research In Motion who were laid off during the BlackBerry-maker’s sweeping cutbacks this year are getting a hand from the City of Waterloo.
This week a jobs centre opened at City Hall designed to help the newly unemployed workers find positions at other local technology firms.
It’s part of a partnership between the Ontario and municipal governments as well as other local groups, including tech industry lobbyist Communitech.
Together, they’re hoping to help funnel an estimated 3,000 laid off workers in the region into new jobs at other companies.
RIM announced in June that it would cut 5,000 employees worldwide as part of an effort to save $1 billion by the end of its fiscal year in February 2013.
More than half of the company’s 16,500 employees — about 9,000 — work in the Waterloo region.
Iain Klugman, the chief executive of Communitech, says the jobs centre is a unique project because jobs programs are typically reserved for massive layoffs at auto plants and mining companies.
He says the former RIM employees all have very specific skill sets, ranging from developers and quality assurance representatives, to sales and marketing people.
“You name it, (and they) are walking in,” Klugman said. “They are pretty much all very well-educated, global company experience, white collar workers.”
We’re seeing a bunch of technology companies outside the country who are saying ’We really would love to have access to some of that great talent that’s coming out of RIM
But Klugman says he’s confident there are many other opportunities for those job seekers at more than 1,000 other technology companies in the region.
Communitech says the Waterloo region has also seen a burst of startups since RIM began its layoffs, with more than 100 new companies registering with the organization since July.
Klugman said the community has also started to get more attention from international firms who are looking to capitalize on the rush of job seekers.
“As people put a different kind of spotlight on RIM, they’re also starting to also look a little deeper into Waterloo region,” he said.
“We’re seeing a bunch of technology companies outside the country who are saying ’We really would love to have access to some of that great talent that’s coming out of RIM. We’re thinking of putting a development team up in your area.”’
Meanwhile, RIM is focusing on becoming a leaner operation as it pushes ahead with the launch of its much-delayed new BlackBerry smartphones and operating system, expected early next year.
The company, which posted a quarterly loss of US$235 million in its second quarter, anticipates a further operating loss in the third quarter as it works through the transition.