CAW launches groundbreaking study tracking laid off workers

The CAW recently unveiled a new study, the first of its kind in Ontario, tracks a random sample of workers in Toronto, Brampton and Kitchener, many of whom lost their jobs only months prior to the official beginning of the recession.

 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.

Key findings include:

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