Five hundred workers lost their jobs yesterday and 600 more will be laid off within the next three months after Dell announced that it is closing its Ottawa call centre.

Job cuts took effect immediately and the computer maker said, once layoffs are complete, only 100 consumer and business sales department workers will still be employed by Dell in the capital.

The move is part of the company’s global strategy to reduce head count, enhance efficiency, provide better customer value and to reduce costs, said Dell spokesman Blair Patacairk.


Patacairk, who works out of Ottawa, said the 1,100 people who have lost or will lose jobs are “technical professionals” — call centre agents who do computer troubleshooting. The support work performed at the Kanata centre will be moved to other locations.

Just over two years ago, Dell opened its call centre here and announced plans to eventually triple its workforce locally. But earlier this year, Dell laid off 100-plus people at the city call centre and abandoned plans for a second facility.

While employees get compensation benefits, “the silver lining in this is that they learned a lot from the training we have here and that bodes well as they go back into the market,” said Patacairk. “We have a lot of bright people here who have transferable skills.”

Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI) president and CEO Jeffrey Dale agrees displaced workers should have little trouble finding tech sector employment.
“People that Dell hired were extremely qualified people,” said Dale.

Although he said OCRI was “shocked” at the extent of the cuts, he’s confident people will find jobs quickly.
“The legacy of Dell is that they came and set up shop here and trained well over 1,000 people and made them extremely marketable.

“Now small and medium businesses have access to the employees. There still is high demand out there. But it’s the small to medium (tech) companies that are hiring.”

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