300 Waterloo-based employees lose jobs as BlackBerry layoffs begin
Published Tuesday, October 8, 2013 10:59AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 8, 2013 6:32PM EDT
BlackBerry is taking the first step toward its planned elimination of 4,500 employees.
A company spokesperson confirms to CTV News that 300 Waterloo-based employees are being laid off this week as part of the company’s plan to reduce its global workforce by 4,500.
“We are in a period of transition and we must focus on enhancing our financial results to be in a better position to compete in this current mobile environment,” a BlackBerry statement reads.
“We recognize our local employees’ hard work on behalf of our company and the difficulty of this news, and we will do everything in our power to treat our employees with compassion while offering support during this time of transition.”
Reports indicate the company’s enterprise and design departments will be affected by this week’s layoffs.
BlackBerry had announced the global cuts, representing 40 per cent of its workforce, last month, but at the time didn’t say how many affected employees would be based locally.
Greg Irving, a business professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, says remaining employees could be looking at the tech companies that have announced plans to expand their local presence – like Square and Motorola – and weighing their options carefully.
“You’ve got to be wondering ‘Where is the company going from here?’” he says.
“There are a lot of new companies coming into Waterloo Region that are looking for just that kind of talent pool.”
As Communitech’s director of talent networks, Karen Gallant is charged with helping laid off BlackBerry employees find new jobs.
“Over the past year … we’ve seen 957 people through our activities, and we know that 707 of them have moved onto their next opportunity,” she says.
Gallant estimates that about half of those 707 ended up leaving the tech world for another industry, with finance and insurance as particularly common destinations.
“Many of these individuals have very transferrable skills,” she says.
Irving agrees that it shouldn’t be difficult for BlackBerry employees to find work without leaving Waterloo Region – whatever field they want to end up in.
“These employees have a lot of opportunities,” he says.
“There’s no doubt that a lot of them will land on their feet.”
Treasury Board president Tony Clement said Tuesday that any foreign takeover of BlackBerry would have to pass the federal government’s “net benefit” test.
The only entity to publicly announce plans to bid for the company is a consortium of Canadian investors led by Toronto-based Fairfax Financial Holdings.
With files from The Canadian Press