In a previous posting, we saw how training could act as a defence mechanism faced with the current crisis. I'd now, with the help of a few examples, like to talk about training as a social 'shock absorber' to the crisis.
In Franche-Comté, in the Peugeot region, 10, 000 out of 28,000 employees have disappeared in one year. Motor industry sub-contractors have been hit very hard indeed.
David Barbier, a staff representative of the company Trevest, technical motor fabrications manufacturer, explains in La Croix that “Since last September, with our friends from PSA and Faurecia, we realised that the volumes had taken a turn for the worst throughout the whole field and that we were heading for disaster. Therefore, we had to use a little imagination”.
Imagination did not mean resorting to violence, but consisted of getting all involved parties together, that is to say the State, region representatives, employers/management and representatives of the training system management. Altogether, they took time to think about how they could soften the blow. The result really lived up to the stakes: an agreement signed by all the unions to turn training into a lever for the improvement of future productivity and job retention. It anticipates the training of 10, 000 employees in 56 companies.
Training so as to not have to lay people off, all the while preparing for the future. Thanks to a system implemented for part-time unemployment, we react to sub-activity by training rather than by laying-off. Finance is ensured, in the agreement, by the region, the State and the supporting partners with more than 11 million Euros. Everybody gets involved.
Jacques Bauquier, CGT regional secretary and signatory of the agreement, faught to sell the project. Thus, when he learnt that in a metal-works company, the laying-off of 35 employees was in the pipeline, he made contact with the director and warned the region “The employer wanted to lay off 35 employees and thus pocket a million Euros”, explains the union representative. That corresponded to 94 employees in training. That's the kind of thing we negotiated... and he withdrew his downsizing plan”.
This is a good example of societal intelligence and good regional governance. At best, it illustrates the management by the region of its ability by right in the field of training, at the heart of its employment pool. Thus, training allowed for a certain number of social tensions that had been generated in this region by the crisis to be overcome.
It is clearly proof-positive of its positive externalities.