More than 1,000 laid-off workers at Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) are being offered fast-tracked healthcare training to help Sweden’s under pressure health system fight coronavirus.
Earlier this week, SAS announced it would temporarily lay off as much as 90 per cent of its staff – the equivalent of 10,000 employees – as demand for flights has “more or less disappeared”.
This comes as European countries begin to shut their borders and introduce travel advisory warnings.
But rather than leave these employees in the lurch, Reuters reported, Sweden’s Sophiahemmet University will run a three-day trial for 30 people at the end of March with the hope of extending the course to “hundreds more”.
“There are incredibly competent people who will be able to offer relief to our healthcare immediately after completing the training so that doctors and nurses can to an even greater extent devote themselves to caring for patients,” Johanna Adami, principal at the University, told Reuters.
The Swedish course will reportedly be free of charge, with the companies involved with the training not seeking to make a profit. Funding is provided by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg foundation.
According to Reuters, students will be trained in providing information to patients and their families, sterilising beds and equipment and basic administrative duties.
Fredrik Hillelson, CEO at Novare Human Capital, is acting as coordinator and recruiter for the program, and said around 250 out of 1,100 contacted SAS workers have so far said they want to take part in the training.
“It is a small bright light in all the darkness to be able to do something positive, not just talking,” he told Reuters.
“If we can be a positive initiative that gets other people to think outside the box, I’m very happy.”
It’s a fantastic example of the potential of redeployment, which could be replicated closer to home.
Qantas previously said around two-thirds of its 30,000 workers would be temporarily stood down, but CEO Alan Joyce outlined the potential for them to be redeployed with the airline’s partners, including the likes of Woolworths.
In addition, New Zealand Minister of Finance Grant Robertson said in a press conference that discussions were underway to redeploy Air New Zealand employees, “in particular to support the Ministry of Health”.
The kiwi national carrier previously outlined it would slash long-haul capacity by 85 per cent.
Featured image: iStock/gorodenkoff