Hundreds of Former BlackBerry Workers Swarm Job Fair in Search of Employment

There have been many arguments that the massive BlackBerry layoffs in Canada could actually be good for the nation.

But try telling that to the hundreds of unemployed BlackBerry workers who are struggling to find jobs.

50 companies, from giants to startups, set up booths at a job fair held in Waterloo this week. Up to 250 positions were looking to be filled. But nearly 700 people attended, including well over 300 former BlackBerry staff.

Local organizations like Communitech are working hard to aid former BlackBerry employees, but it’s difficult for smaller organizations to stem the bleeding, especially when it seems like every other week, hundreds more worker are let go. Thousands more Canadian jobs wil be lost in the coming months.

With increasingly abysmal job prospects—the city’s anchor employer is crumbling and university graduates must now compete with seasoned former BlackBerry staff for finite positions in Waterloo—some locals fear that students will look elsewhere for work, such as Toronto or even the US. It’s a legitimate concern: California-based Apple recently set up a hiring kiosk just minutes away from BlackBerry’s headquarters to snatch talent.

New company offices in Waterloo may offer some help—Motorola and Square both established presences in Waterloo this year—but each office will only support, at best, a few dozen employees.

Waterloo will either weather this storm and become stronger for it, or collapse beneath the dead weight of a fallen giant. Let’s hope it’s the former.