A few months ago, as part of an outsourcing deal with IBM India, Pearson laid off staff from its Global Shared Operations and Corporate Finance Division in New Jersey. Bad news for the workers, but not unusual in the highly competitive global economy. The difference in this story is that a group of the workers then applied to the U.S. Department of Labor for retraining assistance via the Federal Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. This scheme is designed to help US workers retrain if their jobs are shifted abroad or killed off by foreign competition. Regrettably, their request was rejected because their work at Pearson was classified as a service and not a product and so didn’t qualify under TAA.
What makes this unfortunate situation more tragic is that Pearson is a training provider, particularly in India (via their IndiaCan JV); and it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that IndiaCan may even have trained some of IBM’s Bangalore workers who replaced Pearson New Jersey staff!
With education and training being Pearson’s corporate DNA, surely the company could have provided some retraining themselves at little or no cost? If not surely it would be an opportunity for the Pearson Foundation to shown a pragmatic side to their mission to ‘make a difference by promoting learning’.
In a final Machiavellian twist, local and state authorities have recently agreed to give Pearson $50m in tax breaks for shifting 600 workers from New Jersey to New York City. A smart deal for Pearson, one that will have been partially funded from the state taxes paid by their former workers!