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Jobseekers and employers looking for opportunities at Norwich jobs fair

PUBLISHED: 17:53 07 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:53 07 February 2018

Job and career seekers chat to stallholders at the Norwich City Council's Ready for Work Jobs Fair at St Andrews Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Job and career seekers chat to stallholders at the Norwich City Council's Ready for Work Jobs Fair at St Andrews Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2018

Employers reported a mixed recruitment picture during a Norfolk jobs fair which saw a greater-than-expected turn-out.

Job and career seekers chat to stallholders at the Norwich City Council's Ready for Work Jobs Fair at St Andrews Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Job and career seekers chat to stallholders at the Norwich City Council's Ready for Work Jobs Fair at St Andrews Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Private and public sector employers, from HM Prison Service to Bernard Matthews, welcomed more than 400 jobseekers and others at the Ready for Work fair in Norwich – with more than 250 people coming through the door in the first hour.

While there has been a rush of job losses announced in the county in recent months – with Oyster Yachts in Hoveton the latest to put jobs at risk – for some employers the fair, organised by Norwich City Council and Jobcentre Plus, was an opportunity to drum up interest in the midst of recruitment difficulties.

Companies in the care sector reported some trouble in finding staff, including NR Care.

“Good quality carers are harder to come by because there are so many companies looking for them,” said director John Burke.

Laura Wigby, digital inclusion project co-ordinator, at the Norwich City Council's Ready for Work Jobs Fair at St Andrews Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Laura Wigby, digital inclusion project co-ordinator, at the Norwich City Council's Ready for Work Jobs Fair at St Andrews Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“A lot of our jobs are paid for by the council and they can only pay a certain amount.”

Lawrence Crainiceanu, trainee regional manager at care home operator Castlemeadow, said the Swanton Morley-based company was almost “always recruiting” to combat high staff turnover in the sector.

He said there had been a “sharp decline” in the number of European workers applying to the company.

“People want a bit of safety. With all the rumours going around, they are avoiding England. We employ a number of Europeans but British staff have been stepping up,” he said.

The Norwich City Council's Ready for Work Jobs Fair at St Andrews Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY The Norwich City Council's Ready for Work Jobs Fair at St Andrews Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Jacquie Collins, of pump installation and maintenance firm Panks in Norwich, said some vacancies were taking a while to fill but that the firm could offer opportunities to some who had lost their jobs at Britvic, Unilever and others.

“They are the sort of skills that could be transferred. We do not always look for people with specific qualifications ,” she said.

Laura Wigby, digital inclusion coordinator at Norwich City Council, said the effect of recent redundancies on turn-out was difficult to quantify.

“There are always people looking for work and we have a wide variety of different employers here, it is not sector specific so I think that draws people in. They are thinking about roles they may not have considered before,” she said.

The Norwich City Council's Ready for Work Jobs Fair at St Andrews Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY The Norwich City Council's Ready for Work Jobs Fair at St Andrews Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The jobs fair also has an emphasis on digital skills for attendees, with a team on hand to offer digital advice for CVs and online job applications. Miss Wigby said jobseeking was a “real motivator” for people to up their digital skills.

Karen Davis, Norwich City Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for financial inclusion, said: “It is important to provide opportunities and remove barriers to anyone seeking work in Norwich.”

The jobseekers’ view

Chris Scurfield, 27, works seasonally as an activities instructor, but was searching for a job to tide him through the winter.

Chris Scurfield at the Norwich City Council's Ready for Work Jobs Fair at St Andrews Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Chris Scurfield at the Norwich City Council's Ready for Work Jobs Fair at St Andrews Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

He says he has repeated the same pattern since 2015, working as a gardener and in childcare out of season.

He says he loves his job, but finding an employer who will offer another seasonal contract for the winter is difficult. “My skills set is quite varied so employers tend to see that as a lack of commitment.”

He added: “The types of job available have become more varied.”

Lynda Scott is approaching the end of an employment contract with a Norwich charity. The 54-year-old worked in banking for 18 years, but had to quit following a severe illness and has not held a full-time job for several years.

Lynda Scott at the Norwich City Council's Ready for Work Jobs Fair at St Andrews Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Lynda Scott at the Norwich City Council's Ready for Work Jobs Fair at St Andrews Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“Finding something I can manage is hard,” she said. “It does worry me – when you mention you have a disability, you don’t know what reaction you are going to get.”

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