Thirty Years of Outplacement
In 1991, Rover Group signed an agreement with the Trades Unions called the ‘New Deal’. At its core, in return for full flexibility from the workforce, the Company committed to ‘Jobs for Life’, in effect no compulsory redundancies. However, there remained a need to change the balance of the workforce, particularly an imbalance between white collar (staff) and blue collar (manual) workers.
In the years leading up to this deal, the company had used external consultants to provide outplacement support. It was, to be brutally frank, low level. For example, everyone had the same CV but with a different name on it and a few tweaks to the job titles. We were spending a lot of money for, in effect, PR purposes.
These pressures combined to create an internal outplacement function, which was called Skills Network. I developed it from an almost literal blank sheet of paper. Whether the affected people sought a role within Rover Group or with an alternative employer, most of the help was common, individualised CV, interview practice, personal coaching. Given there wasn’t any Compulsory Redundancy, there was also a need to find productive projects for the people whilst job hunting.
Of course, throughout the time up to April 2005, when MG Rover went into Administration and ultimately liquidation, we supported thousands of people. Not everyone asked for much help except their redundancy cheque, but some needed to be ‘re-built’. Probably our most concentrated efforts were through the rests of 2005 as we established who needed to be retained to close the business down, what the effects on pensions were and where there were jobs. As an aside, being involved in a business closure, and supporting central and local government was an intense learning period.
By Work Horizons director, Rob Ball.