Life after Redundancy
Posted on May 07, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Patrick Duffy, student in the Adult Learning BA (ALBA) writes about his personal experience of redundancy over two years ago, and how the BA is helping him to find his feet again.
On a cold day in February we stood listening to the Chief Executive Officer. Most stood in silence, numbed by the cold but more so by the harsh news coming from the podium. From an accountant’s point of view the message being delivered was logical and sensible, losses were mounting and the haemorrhage of money from the organisation needed to be stopped. As the Irish branch of a large multinational company we had to take our share of the financial restructuring. Considering that the Irish branch was the only branch to make a profit in the recent past, complete closure and redundancy for all employees seemed senseless. But we, the workers, were not consulted and not even included in the calculations, we were already discounted, on the out-of-date shelf, redundant and left to fend for ourselves. There was no reprieve, the company was closing, the only option was to go and apply for the dole. The thought was alien to many, with long service, who had never experienced unemployment. We were unemployed. News reports heralded our redundancy across the globe, there was no way to escape the publicity, and each employee’s world was shattered. Neighbours, relatives and friends started calling to express their concerns about the layoff much like sympathy on bereavement.
The reality of redundancy
The first weeks were busy with statutory obligations, including registration with the Department of Social Protection and FÁS. Despite the adverse public comment the State agencies were very helpful, each individual made every effort to smooth the way and ensure that all entitlements were realised. After the initial holiday feeling had worn off the real meaning of redundancy took hold. It is an experience not to be wished for, unpleasant and disturbing.
Finding my feet
It was through the efforts of FÁS that I made contact with adult education course providers. The event was organised to introduce as many as possible of the newly unemployed to the available educational options at all levels. Each provider presented the options and advantages of completing a course offered by them. I was persuaded to sign up for a Learning Assessment Seminar (LAS) in All Hallows College by a gentleman with a beard. Still to be convinced I attended the LAS in the coldest of weather in January 2010, still hurting from the callous announcement of redundancy a year earlier. I was slowly drawn to sign up for the Adult Learning BA (ALBA) in All Hallows College.
A new identity
The day I started the ALBA course the stigma of unemployment began to wane. The student card enables me to avail of discounts at many cash desks, which I have ceased being embarrassed to request. It also affords me a new identity of which I am proud. From the outset the ALBA course seemed right for me. The course is specially designed to meet the needs of adult students. Students are facilitated in the process, of designing a bespoke course of study and integrating prior learning, which enables the achievement of a BA degree. The modules are relevant, topical, engaging and modern. Writing assignments generates a sense of achievement signifying the completion of a module. Some assignments seem therapeutic in easing the pain of redundancy. Stephen Joseph describes a writing exercise which he says “can help you see things from new perspectives, make new connections and find new insights”. Aspects of some modules enkindle a latent interest in a subject and lead on to further study.
A catalyst for future employment
College has replaced my workplace and my fellow students my work colleagues. Indeed it has become a second home. For me the adult learning experience has drawn out an unexpected interest in education and associated subjects which will hopefully be the catalyst for future employment. Throughout the ALBA course I have grown in self-esteem and confidence, which has primed my job hunting capability for immediate action.
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