We Need More Jobs Not Just Retraining; Dr Tony Dobbins Is Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management at Bangor University's Business School. One of His Research Projects Investigates the Impact of Mass Redundancy in Wales

Article excerpt

MY RESEARCH with colleagues at Bangor tracks workers' experiences of redundancy and the impact on the local labour market, following closure in 2009 of a large employer, Anglesey Aluminium, in North Wales. Drawing on accounts of redundancy from ex-workers from Anglesey Aluminium, the research considers two questions - does supply of re-skilling and re-training, of itself, improve job prospects for (ex) workers after redundancy and are conventional ways of looking at labour market policy adequate? The research looks at the relationship between supply of skills by workers and actual demand for those skills from employers.

The purpose of the research is to improve understanding, and inform policy, on the impact of mass redundancy in vulnerable regions like Anglesey in a climate of economic uncertainty in Wales.

Our initial findings show most ex-AA workers seeking work had found it, and many had taken re-training opportunities to prepare for new jobs.

Others opt for early retirement or self-employment, while some move away to find work. Those in employment staying on Anglesey often enter insecure lower quality lower paid jobs below their skill level. We call this a pragmatic 'make do and mend' response to redundancy in difficult circumstances.

We discovered that many former Anglesey Aluminium workers find themselves overqualified but underemployed. Our key finding is that the Anglesey Aluminium story suggests even after workers retrained, their supply of particular skills did not, of itself, create its own demand from employers for their skills. There are broader underlying structural problems on Anglesey relating to the low quality of many low paid jobs. …