Orange County

7K Disney layoffs could mean bleak future for some graduates

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Documents filed Tuesday show that nearly 6,700 local non-union Disney employees are among the 28,000 workers the company plans to lay off this year.

The documents show 6,390 employees of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S. Inc. and 279 employees of DVD Inc. will be laid off as of Dec. 4.

READ: ‘The only feasible option’: Disney Parks to lay off 28K workers in Florida, California

Walt Disney Parks, Experiences and Products announced Tuesday that about 28,000 Disney theme park employees in Florida and California will be laid off this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Disney called the decision “the only feasible option.”

Abraham Pizam, a professor at the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality, said they his students are now preparing for a bleak outlook post-graduation.

“We ourselves are starting to train people for the health care sector because we realized that hospitality, for the time being, is not hiring,” Pizam said.

Health care is one of several growing industries asking CareerSource Central Florida to help them find staff.

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Gina Ronokarijo, career services manager for CareerSource, said first they have to convince hospitality workers that they are truly qualified for the job.

“Maybe you were a food and beverage worker, and what does that look like in the healthcare setting? Nutrition and that type of thing,” she said.

Ronokarijo acknowledges there aren’t enough jobs in the big, growing sectors for everyone, especially since the Central Florida economy is so tourism-dependent.

So they’re looking in every nook and cranny for jobs that will put food on the table for now.

“I know that we were even training some dog groomers at this point because a company needed some so it’s we’re being a little creative right now,” Ronokarijo said.

Up to 4,000 Orange County residents can get customized help and services through the help is here program, which is funded by the CARES Act funding the county received.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson,

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.