As Ford's remaining local manufacturing facilities near their closing date, just 160 of the remaining 814 workers are to remain with the automotive company.
The rest of Ford's employees are out of luck, despite recieving substantial severance pay and being on the recieving end of job fairs and industry measures, funded by a $20 million initiative between Ford and the Victorian government.
The shutdown is estimated to leave up to half of the remaining workforce unemployed in the short term. Some employees have already begun to leave the company, taking early severance payouts and moving on to further employment.
The situation does not bode well for local economies, with a release from Deakin University estimating that up to a third of the now-redundant workforce may become unemployable in the long term, based upon studies of similar events.
Pollenizer, Australia’s oldest startup incubator, is planning to launch a free two-day session in Geelong to help workers affected by the Ford shut down explore the idea of creating their own business.
The program, named Next Monday, will show former Ford workers how any idea can be developed into a business. The hope is that the technical skills and work ethic of longtime Ford employees can be leveraged into a position that will benefit both the workers, and the communities they live in.
Next Monday was formed in less than 24 hours by Pollenizer, in response to figures from Australian Catholic University that, despite up to 62 percent of Ford workers intending to look for a new job following the closure of the plant this Friday, only 1 percent aim to start their own business.
The company is seeking further support from the startup and business community ahead of the Next Monday’s launch on (fittingly) Monday.
“This is about bringing Australia’s most talented startup veterans together to tackle what will be an ongoing issue as Australia’s economy transitions and more jobs are displaced,” Pollenizer chief startup scientist Phil Morle said.
“The Australian economy is going through unprecedented change. Legacy industries are shifting and new ones are being created. In our work, we have learned that as fast as old businesses end, new ones emerge and that anybody can start them.”
In addition, the program could provide a kickstart to Geelong’s budding startup ecosystem, which recently received $1.7m in funding from LaunchVIC.