Gaps


From the moment that I took up engineering studies and the time (not even half a year ago !) when I retired, 32 years and 6 months have elapsed, of which I have spent 31 years and 2 months in education, the army or employment. Meaning that I was out of a job for a total of 16 months, spread over 5 separate periods, and all concentrated in the first 15 years of my career.

Period #1 – July to September 1979

This hardly felt like unemployment, since it didn’t last longer than your student summer holiday, and I think I was already approached with a job offer by Professor Dilewijn’s laboratory towards the end of August.

Period #2 – September 1981

One month’s transition between my first stint as a researcher and starting my army service. More like a necessary transition period than actual unemployment.

Period #3 – June 1982 to January 1983

This was the only period that truly counted as unemployment in my records, and amounted to half of the 16 months that I was not in education, the army or employment. It started off initially as a nice summer holiday, making new friends in Bruges, and getting my fair share of interviews. It was only towards the latter part of 1982 that things started to look grim : the steel industry was retrenching, and I didn’t manage to get my foot back into the employment threadmill. Fortunately I had my contacts in Professor Dilewijn’s lab, and was picked up for another 11-month stint.

Period #4 – January 1984

One month’s transition between my second stint as a researcher and moving to South Africa to start working for Iscor. Again, more like a necessary transition period than actual unemployment.

Period #5 – July to September 1989

Not at all like my other major period of unemployment, since I came from a period where I had shown my worth in a real industrial environment, and was never out interviews to go to. I had my interview with Allied Steel & Wire quite early on, and in the end had the luxury of being able to choose between them, Inco Alloys and British Steel.

Since then I have had continuous employment despite having been made redundant at AS&W, and despite the closure of Ebbw Vale. I suppose I learnt in the end how to hold on to a job, and move to the more secure positions when changes and personnel cuts happened in the past 15 years.

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