Industry Market Trends

A New Type of Layoff? Manufacturer Holds Job Fair for its Former Employees

Jan 09, 2013

After a layoff, workers and employers typically part ways, but one manufacturer is helping connect its soon-to-be out-of-work staff with new opportunities by hosting a job fair for them. Is this the beginning of a new business trend?

Credit: basketman at

Layoffs at 100-year-old Pierce Manufacturing began late last year and are underway this month at the company's Bradenton, Fla., location. Pierce Manufacturing, an Oshkosh Corp. company that manufactures fire and emergency vehicles, decided that it will discontinue its ambulance line, resulting in the sweeping job cuts, the Bradenton Herald reported. The continuing cuts mean that hundreds of people will soon be out of work.

Yet for former Pierce Manufacturing employees, their job hunts are already underway due to the company's job fair, which will take place this month at one of the manufacturer's buildings. There, 25 local employers, in addition to educational institutions, will meet with those in search of new jobs. Pierce Manufacturing also recently held a job fair at its Wisconsin plant.

According to the local news outlet, the manufacturer received $700,000 in state and economic incentive funds under the condition that it creates certain jobs at a specific pay scale over five years. But with the layoffs, the company turned to the state and Manatee county to determine what would happen to those funds, now that they cannot meet that goal.

Suncoast Workforce and the  county's Economic Development Corp. have banded together with the manufacturer, which spent $1,600 to set up the fair for its former employees. Could this be the start of new type of standard process?

While it's not uncommon for companies to hold their own job fairs to grow internal staff - such as one held by sheet metal fabrication company Voisard Manufacturing - job fairs for former employees are more unique.

"They have a conscience. They might be able to get these employees back when they realize they need them," Joy Montgomery, who works in management consulting, told Career Journal.  "The sooner the laid-off employees get a job, the sooner they're off unemployment. Helping them get a job faster is smart."

Terry Callendrillo, a construction safety expert, agreed, saying that a job fair for current and soon-to-be-unemployed staff shows that a company is doing much more than cutting workers loose. He also addressed how a job fair affects the sentiments of former employees.

"Although it won't eliminate all bad feelings, [the gesture] will definitely go a long way to making the company more likely to retain and rehire employees when or if the market improves," Callendrillo said.

While it's difficult to know what every laid-off employee might think of Pierce Manufacturing's job fair effort -- i.e., is it just for publicity? - one professional chimed in on alternatives that might be more effective. "As an employee who has been in that situation in the past, I'd rather be provided a choice of assistance services, such as career planning advice, such as cover letter, resume and interview coaching, or the option to take the equivalent value in money," Bernard Gore, a manager of project services in management consulting, pointed out.

What do you think? Are companies that hold job fairs for divested employees initiating a best practice or committing an ethical misstep?