Ian helps workers “Value My Skills”

Process Operator and GMB Union Learning Rep Ian Shimwell is successfully using the ‘Mid-life Review’ Value My Skills cards to support an ageing workforce at Astra Zeneca in Macclesfield prepare for retirement and staged redundancies due to the planned plant closure in December 2018. 

Ian has worked at the company for 18 years and is also a Health and Safety Rep.

To date, Ian has supported over 70 individual members to review their options whether that be re-skilling and training, leisure courses to pursue a hobby, CV writing to apply for different positions or advice for starting their own business.

Ian said:

All the members are at different stages in their working lives and have different aspirations. At Astra Zeneca most staff are aged 50 plus and the Mid-life Review allows each individual to take stock and discuss the options available to them."

Ian works with two other reps and the HR department to organise training days based in the ‘Opportunity Centre’ at the plant. Most members choose union-funded training where it is available and sometimes company-sponsored training to update skills. GMB provides support where necessary to put on extra courses and provide additional resources such as redundancy booklets which include a Mid-life Review section as part of the content.

Ian acknowledges that not everyone needs his support, saying:

I’m very happy if they do it themselves."

But he is proud that even those who initially did not want to engage in union learning are now coming to him for advice and support.

Even those non-respondents now want to do CV Builder, they are not so negative as they once were."

Ian has tapped into the company business mission which is to “make Astra Zeneca a great place to work”. He has the full support of management, HR and the training department and they have given staff time off for training activities based on the shift pattern of individuals and he has secured facilities time.

He knows that the two years left will go very quickly and he thinks he is offering staff the opportunity to look at alternatives to redundancy in a positive way.

Ian added:

The staff are not fearing change now but they are looking at the transition more successfully.

There are alternative directions for some and others will at least be more prepared for the phased redundancy process as it rolls forward."

Ian is not forgetting his own needs whilst taking time to help others. He is currently studying for an Information, Advice and Guidance course and keeping his options open as to possibilities for the future.

This case study first appeared in “Supporting Mid-life Development Survey – Evaluation Report 2017” which can be accessed at https://www.unionlearn.org.uk/publications/supporting-midlife-development-survey-report