Thomas Cook staff who are made redundant may turn to homeworking or could be forced to leave the travel industry, according to recruitment experts.
The company confirmed today that it will cut 2,500 jobs across its retail network and back office jobs at Peterborough, Preston and Accrington.
Jayne Peirce, managing director of Jayne Peirce Recruitment Solutions, said the Thomas Cook staff looking for new jobs would have to be prepared to relocate or commute further to get a new job or consider new roles such as working from home.
Peirce said the best opportunities would be available for those who could show they had progressed in their careers and were flexible in terms of taking on new types of roles.
“Thomas Cook is a very well respected brand and they have a very good calibre of candidate, particularly in product and commercial roles, but staff will have to be flexible in terms of their next job. They may have to commute into London for example,” she said.
Homeworking would present an opportunity for those prepared to work away from the high-street. “It’s whether they can adapt to not being in a shop environment and become budding entrepreneurs. I think it’s about being open to new ideas, if you are not you will struggle,” added Peirce.
Kristina Wallen, managing director at Harp Wallen Executive Search, said: "Sales consultants might find it's a tough market in retail. It may be a case of taking their sales skills and looking at opportunities outside of travel. For some, now might be a good time to use their transferable skills in another sector, such as financial services."
"Those who are mobile will have a better chance of finding a role within another travel company," she added.
Wallen agreed that homeworking may be an option for those with a good client base. She said: "There is evidence of homeworking being the answer for a lot of people in this area. It is an area where people can make a lot of money, but it's not for everyone. Some people need the energy of an office."
Travel Trade Recruitment sales director Claire Muge said the company had already had an influx of calls from Thomas Cook staff who fear they will lose their jobs. "People are putting feelers out, particularly in areas where they know shops are likely to close," she said.
Muge said the travel recruitment sector was not experiencing the "doom and gloom" of 2009. "It's quite a buoyant market for those who are flexible, and willing to change their salary or open to new options," she added.
C&M Recruitment sales director Barbara Kolosinska said she would be contacting Thomas Cook in order to support staff whose jobs are under threat and urged employees not to look at switching to roles outside the travel industry.
She reassured staff concerned about their future. "There are jobs out there and it would be tragic if all these people were lost to other industries. We will try to ensure that doesn't happen as it has in the past."
The terrorist attacks in September 2011 and the outbreak of SARS were followed by an exodus of staff from the industry, particularly business travel, which was followed by a skills shortage in the travel industry, she added.
"I would like to capture as many of these Thomas Cook staff as possible, the best ones will get employment."
Thomas Cook staff had strong sales and product knowledge although may need training to sell on global distribution systems if they only have experience of using inhouse sales systems, she said.
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