The Ontario government is partnering with Research In Motion Ltd. to help laid-off technology workers in Waterloo, Ont., as the smartphone giant continues with a restructuring process that will see around 5,000 employees lose their jobs.
The Ontario government, in a news release on Monday, said it had partnered with RIM, local tech hub Communitech and the region’s two universities – the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University – to provide more spaces in enterpreneurship and business programs, as well as an action centre that will help laid-off workers find new jobs or get employment counselling.
The Kitchener-Waterloo region is home to hundreds of small technology start-ups, sizeable established tech businesses such as RIM and Open Text Corp., and a variety of growing mid-sized firms such as Aeryon Labs and Com Dev International Ltd.
But BlackBerry maker RIM, which is headquartered in Waterloo and employs around 9,000 people in the region, has captured most of the attention as it struggles to turn around its business after losing market share to Apple Inc.’s iPhone and phones running Google Inc.’s Android software.
RIM has pledged to find $1-billion in cost savings by the end of the fiscal year, in part by laying off 5,000 staff. Last summer, the company laid off 2,000.
Although the most recent round of layoffs are designed to be global and aren’t restricted to Waterloo, the region is sure to see an outsized impact, given the company’s operations in Ontario are much larger than its global offices in London, Singapore and elsewhere.
Andew MacLeod, RIM’s managing director for Canada, said he could not comment on the number of layoffs coming to the local community, but said the company was “gratified” that it could work with long-standing local partners to provide support.
“We genuinely recognize the human element here,” Mr. MacLeod said. “We recognize there’s stress on our employees, their families and the community as a whole.”
At the same time, Mr. MacLeod stressed that RIM was not targeting layoffs at areas of the company that were still experiencing strong growth, and mentioned that it was not going to touch any part of the organization working away on BlackBerry 10 - a new software platform for the company’s devices that has been delayed numerous times and is now due out in January.
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