This article tracks workers’ responses to redundancy and impact on the local labour market and regional unemployment policy after the closure of a large employer, Anglesey Aluminium (AA), on Anglesey in North Wales. It questions human capital theory (HCT) and its influence on sustaining neo-liberal policy orthodoxy – focused on supplying skilled and employable workers in isolation from other necessary ingredients in the policy recipe. It is concluded that HCT and associated skills policy orthodoxy are problematic because supply of particular skills did not create demand from employers. Ex-AA workers faced a paradox of being highly skilled but underemployed. Some workers re-trained but there were insufficient (quality) job opportunities. In picking up the pieces after redundancy many workers found themselves part of a labour ‘precariat’ with little choice but to ‘make do and mend’.