The collapse of travel giant Thomas Cook last month has left more than 22,000 former employees out of work. While initial responses focused on customers who found themselves trapped overseas, attention has since turned to newly-redundant staff.
Specifically: where former Thomas Cook talent may find themselves working next.
Former competitor brands have worked to accommodate abandoned holidaymakers on replacement flights. And, it turns out, they have been equally quick to extend support to ex-Thomas Cook talent, as well.
Thomas Cook and the race for talent
With more than 9,000 UK-based redundancies (and a further 13,000 worldwide), the release of newly available skills into the sector was never likely to go unnoticed. But what has been interesting to witness was the ‘non-traditional’ approach taken by many organisations.
But it is not only the leisure and travel industries wading in to scoop up the talent. Employers as diverse as the police force and rail operators have also rushed to grab newly available personnel.
And they have not been using the regular channels to reach out to the new talent pool, either.
The British Transport Police issued a message directly to former Thomas Cook employees – extending the offer of a slight career change. “We are looking for outstanding individuals to join our policing family and think that Thomas Cook’s dedicated and hard-working staff would fit right in at BTP. At this time of uncertainty for so many people, we wanted to help and highlight what options are available in the transport industry.”
Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic has created a completely new career pathway for ex-Thomas Cook employees wishing to join the airline. Although in this instance the offer is open to cabin crew with directly transferable skills, it demonstrates the efforts employers are making to capture talent.
Mass Redundancies present a microcosm of recruitment today
Mass redundancies of this scale can offer a helpful insight of the industry as a whole. That is because a large-scale shift in the skills market – focused on a specific industry –
The nature of the response tells us a few things. Firstly, the extent of skills gaps has forced employers to understand that reaction times are vital in securing talent. The speed with which companies reached out to available talent reveals the level of competition in the current jobs market.
Secondly, it shows that the smart use of social media channels. The firms in question were fast to reach out personally. Others – as we saw in the case of Virgin Atlantic – were able to develop unique pipelines for potential candidates.
Finally, the point of the transferability of skills is clear to see. The diverse range of prospective employers – including law enforcement – shows that employers are willing to look further afield for staff. This is most likely due in part to necessity, rather than choice. However, there is also growing acceptance that non-linear career paths can produce valuable candidates.
The 178-year-old travel firm collapsed with £1.6 billion in debts, having failed to secure £200 million required to stay afloat.