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Thousands show up with a desire to work

Saturday 1st October 2011 (Andrew Griffiths)
Thousands show up with a desire to work

AROUND 2,500 jobseekers descended on Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium yesterday hoping to find employment at the biggest jobs fair in the town’s history.

Scores of people queued outside the building before the doors opened to the fair, where around 1,000 vacancies were up for grabs.

Forty five companies had stalls at the event, including Boots, which offered 200 vacancies, UPS offering 50, Vodafone offering 30 and even a selection from Sky TV.

JCB, Burton-based pub and brewing giants Spirit, Punch and Molson Coors, as well as Burton and South Derbyshire College, also had stalls.

The event was organised by Burton’s MP, Andrew Griffiths, alongside the town’s chamber of commerce, JobCentre Plus, East Staffordshire Borough Council and the Burton Mail.

Mr Griffiths borrowed the idea for the fair from a fellow Tory MP, who held a similar event in his own constituency.

Helen Greatorex, training and development manager at Hatton-based food and drink giant Nestle, said: “We came to the event because we wanted to support the local economy and recruit locally.

“A lot of people who came were young and wanted experience. We had 60 positions available and there were certainly people there we would gladly take on.”

Anna Hall, an adviser at the East Staffordshire Citizens’ Advice Bureau, which had a stall at the event, said the fair was busy with people seeking voluntary work as well as paid posts.

She said: “The jobs fair was a wonderful event. We were approached by a lot of people looking for voluntary work.”

She continued: “Events like this help people become more confident going into interviews and showing what skills they have to offer.

“I have been quite gobsmacked by the interest there has been.”

Political leaders have described the event as a massive boost to the regional economy.

Philip Atkins, leader of Staffordshire County Council, who attended the event, said: “It was fantastic to see so many people take up the opportunity to meet businesses with real jobs on offer.

“It shows the desire of East Staffordshire to have gainful employment and better life chances.”

Councillor Atkins added: “With jobs, people have healthier and more enjoyable lives and this is what we want to see throughout the region.”

The jobs fair was supported by star of BBC’s Dragons’ Den, Hilary Devey.

Griffiths salutes the firms and job seekers

Andrew Griffiths said: I think people recognised that this was a unique opportunity to come along and see so many jobs under one roof.

This is the first time ever in East Staffordshire that there have been 1,000 real jobs available in one place.

You could feel the energy and excitement from people who were keen to take advantage of fantastic opportunities.

What was surprising was the variety of jobs on offer, from skilled engineering roles with companies such as JCB to hi-tech jobs with firms such as Vodafone.

There were also jobs in the service sector thanks to firms such as Premier Inn, Punch and Spirit.

I was stunned to see the whole of the Pirelli Stadium crammed with businesses offering local jobs to local people.

I was overwhelmed to see a queue of people snaking around two sides of the stadium before the fair opened.

During the first hour, we had 870 people through the doors. The success of this event was down to the partnership between local businesses, the local councils and the Burton Mail, which got behind the jobs fair and promoted it in such an enthusiastic fashion.

Before the fair opened, I gave a speech to all the stallholders and told them that while they are looking to recruit, they were giving a fresh start to young people who thought they would never get onto the jobs market and to old people who thought they were on the scrap heap.

This was a day when companies were able to change people’s lives.

Confidence booster

Burton’s jobs fair drew in unemployed people from across East Staffordshire, with shuttle buses ferrying in jobseekers from Uttoxeter.

The Mail spoke to three jobseekers at the event, who felt their chances of employment were bolstered thanks to the stalls and seminars held on the day.

Andrew Cross, 48: “The event was absolutely fantastic. It was a great advert for Burton. We needed an event like this to tell people that there are jobs on offer in the town.

“I found the event very successful. I just hope it leads to some employment.”

Vicky Hodges, 50: “There are people who have given up looking for work. Events like this give people more confidence that there is work out there.

“Confidence is everything when it comes to finding work. That is why I put in for as many jobs as I could.”

Eddie Byrne, 23: “The jobs fair has done a lot for my confidence. It has done a lot to help other people too. There were quite a few posts I looked into at the event.

“I have had a lot of help from the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and I volunteer there.”

Expectations exceeded

Dave Bryon said: Clearly we had expectations in terms of the number of jobs on offer and the number of jobseekers who would attend this event, but we exceeded these expectations at all levels.

Even at the half-way stage of the fair, we were well on the way to surpassing our expectations.

The number of people who attended was very promising.

Many people told me the event was great and that it had been a success. Interestingly, other people said it was worrying that there are so many people in East Staffordshire who were looking for jobs.

The reality is that we cannot ignore the state of play at the moment. We need to address the issue of unemployment and this jobs fair was the starting point for that.

If there are large numbers of people looking for work after periods of unemployment, we need to put employers in touch with these people for the benefit of both parties.

Over the coming weeks, we will work hard to assess how successful this jobs fair has been and look to plan another one in 2012.

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