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Layoffs Pose Challenges for Flextronics Employees

Posted March 5, 2008

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— For Marguerite Alston, the walk to the local Employment Security Commission office is one that's wearing out its welcome.

It's been a long time since Alston's looked for a job. A month ago, she lost hers at the Flextronics plant in Youngsville – once the largest private employer in Franklin County.

She had been with the electronics manufacturer for seven years and was working to become a team leader. Now, worried about her future, she's a frequent visitor to the ESC.

"If I can't get back into inspection or the electronic part, then I'll have to find something else," Armstrong said.

It's a story that's become familiar to state employment counselors.

More than 200 Flextronics employees have visited the ESC since the Singapore-based conglomerate announced it would shut down the plant by April. The move will put 480 permanent employees out of work.

At least 96 employees were let go in January, and remaining employees and officials familiar with the company expect another round of layoffs on Friday, with 80 to 100 terminations.

The company did not return calls Wednesday.

Longtime employees "don't know what to expect out there" in the marketplace, said Mike Brown, branch manager of the Louisburg office of the Employment Security Commission. "(They don't know) what the employers are looking for."

The county's unemployment rate is 4.4 percent – 0.6 percentage points under the state unemployment rate.

But manufacturing jobs, like the ones at Flextronics, are sparse in Vance County, Henderson ESC Manager Sara Wester said. That means many of the laid-off employees, like Alston, will have to go back to school to learn new skills.

"Trying to find the right job for the right person – that's always the challenge," Wester said.

For now, people like Alston continue to hunt, marketing themselves in the middle of a not-so-friendly job market.


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  • Steve Crisp Mar 6, 2008

    "Steve....Honestly, have you ever known someone who was settled into a really good job, probably the best job they ever held, that started training for another job by going to college? Think about it before you answer."

    Absolutely. My allergist was a CPA when he went ot medical school. I know a physician who decided to go into law. One of my attorneys owned radio stations before he decided to go to law school. My best friend is the manager of an auto repair shop, but he has a degree in engineering. He simply loves what he now does, but it took additional schooling to change careers. Two people who work for me -- both in high paying jobs that are perfect for them -- are in school, one to be a pilot and the other to be a commercial photographer. I will eventually lose both of then to their new careers, but that's just fine with me if they have improved their lives.

    Want me to continue? I know many, many more.

  • beachboater Mar 6, 2008

    chargernut69 - cute remark.

    Steve....Honestly, have you ever known someone who was settled into a really good job, probably the best job they ever held, that started training for another job by going to college? Think about it before you answer.

    Granted, some people do enjoy being a lifetime student, but the vast majority of us would not "plan ahead" like that.

    I'm not as gifted as you, but I am fully capable to make a living in my chosen field and a number of other areas that I chose not to work in. That doesn't mean that a second skill set is any more valuable in getting a new job at any given time.

  • 1heelfan Mar 6, 2008

    HELLO? I am so sorry these people lost their job but join the rest of us who have and are going through the same thing. Losing a job usually does pose a challenge! What a brilliant headline for this story.

  • WRALSUCKS Mar 6, 2008

    There are a LOT of construction jobs even now. Want to take any bets as to the nationality of a significant portion of them? Regardless of the number, it is very very significant.

  • happy Mar 6, 2008

    Steve I think you are looking at this in a black and white, two dimensional world.

    Let's look at reality. Franklin County is not the mecca for Ph.D.'s. (no slam Franklin county) I am sure that a lot of these employees looked at these jobs as a good career move. You are probably right. They graduated from high school, worked in a menial job or farmed for several years and then thought they had found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow when these positions opened up. If you are born and bred in a small community, possibly given land by family to build on, why would you go to school to train for a specific set of skills, if there are no jobs around your home to use those skills?

    My father (first college educated person in his family)made sure each of his kids got a degree. However, he also said "No one is any better or any worse than another human, depending on each person's individual situation." We need farmers and laborers as much as we need degreed positions.

  • Funky Neighbor LEE Mar 6, 2008

    ELECTRONICS is one of the most competitive industries out there.

    How many Nurses do we need? If the health care industry would have to compete like Electronics the massive rise in health care costs would not be happening. Local hospitals wouldn't be adding ultra-massive building programs, air-ambulances, etc overspending.

  • chargernut69 Mar 6, 2008

    wise words Rebel Rose!....

  • sweetrose Mar 6, 2008

    Some people are able to go through their entire lives and never have any hardships at all. I don't think that people should be judging others based on their personal experiences. Very closed minded attitude if you ask me. Please don't think that just because you have your walls lined with degrees and you have a 6 figure job, that it can not all be taken from you in an instant. You, your spouse, a family member could suffer a tragic life changing event that could bring you to your knees.

    "there by the Grace of God go I"

  • Steve Crisp Mar 6, 2008

    To wildervb:

    But wait a sec. Not everyone is gifted? I thought the entire premise of modern education is that all children are fully capable of learning and that that that the only thing preventing them from doing so was a failed homelife? Just what does it take for a kid from the age of 5 until 18 to sit in school, read the assignments, do the homework, study for tests, and progress at an expected rate in order to graduate? And college is essentially free today. Go to a community college and get Pell Grants or small loans, then transfer to a four year program in the UNC system. Or learn a trade in two years and start making money right off the bat.

    This is not hard nor am I special. I did what hundreds of millions of other people have done in the history of our country -- went to school, didn't have babies at 16, and lived within my means. And I refuse to excuse anyone who failed in those areas.

    The decisions you make early in life WILL come back to haunt you later.

  • skidkid269 Mar 6, 2008

    For anyone that's been in manufacturing for years, things are different now. Back in the day, you could go far with only a high school diploma because employers looked at what you could do. Now, if you don't have either a 2 or 4 year degree, your resume goes straight in the trash. The woman in the story was about to get a supervisor position, because of her skills. Now the best she'll get is an entry level position.