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College supports Thomas Cook employees to get a fresh start

City of Bristol College has partnered with Unite Union to develop and deliver a bespoke training package to a number of former Thomas Cook employees. Following the collapse of the 178-year-old-company in September this year, more than 2,000 employees nationwide have lost their jobs overnight. Thanks to the new partnership, six individuals from South West were supported through a two-day course and helped to refresh skills to search, apply and manage an interview process.

Head of Quality, Work-Based Learning and Higher Education, at City of Bristol College, Rob Hazelton, said: “When the news broke that Thomas Cook was closing with the loss of jobs, Unite immediately set up a number of local initiatives to support their members. The College were asked to deliver a training course which would enable members to enhance their employability skills and support their journey back into work.”

Students were taken through a series of self-assessed worksheets, taught key interview skills and tasked to create their own curriculum vitae (CV) ready to find a new job.

Cara Summers, aged 48, had worked for the holiday company for 24 years and said it was ‘incredibly sad’ to leave the business. She added: “This course has been really helpful. Having been in one job for so long, I had to start all over again with my CV and go back to looking for work, which was really new to me. This course has given me the tools to apply for new positions and the self-confidence to utilise my transferrable skills and progress.”

Chris Scriven, lecturer who led the course, said: “All the students completed the course and have gained new knowledge and skills which will support them in having confidence to find new employment. Students were able to apply for real job vacancies while on the course and several of them have got interviews as a result with the likes of British Airways and Tui.

“Most of the students had worked for at least 10 years at their company prior to being made redundant and it is the first time they have had to go through the recruitment process for a very long time. It was important to build their self-confidence and I think they all felt they were in a much better place to find employment following the course.

“Students also left the course keen to learn more with a number going to enrol on one of the College’s IT courses and others looking at potential evening courses for adults delivered by the College.”

Matt Gillett, Regional Education Officer for Unite the Union, said: “As soon as the redundancies were announced, as a union we wanted to do everything we could to support our members including advice and representation, and part of that initiative was providing access to retraining opportunities.

“We are very grateful to City of Bristol College for responding so quickly and putting the course in place in such short notice, it’s a great example of how our organisations can work together to provide vital support to those in need.”

Rob added: “Through this exciting venture responding to a specific need to support local people, I am really pleased with the success of the students who attended this course. All have left with fresh CVs and have found and applied for jobs. I wish them all the best on the next steps of their careers.”

Following the success of the course, the College and Unite plan to develop and offer similar bespoke packages to other employers and individuals in need, to continue to support the people in the West of England back into work. For more information, please contact 0117 312 2796 or email

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