Hundreds look for work at new Norfolk jobs fair

Nearly 400 people looking for a job under the government's welfare to work programme attended a jobs fair event with 13 employers in Norwich yesterday.

Work programme provider Ingeus last year opened an office at Grovesnor House in Prince of Wales Road, one of three in the county including King's Lynn and Great Yarmouth after winning the contract to deliver the scheme in the East of England.

With ministers keen to cut the country's benefit bill, the aim is to help people receiving Job Seekers Allowance or Employment Support Allowance (formerly incapacity benefit) back into work with each participant referred to Ingeus from the Job Centre.

Since opening its office in June Ingeus has had 4,000 jobseekers referred to it and support includes help with CV writing, covering letters, and interview technique. For those who have been out of work for health reasons, there are also specialist sessions including physiotherapy, pilates, and help from mental health professionals.

Celli Jepson, Ingues operations manager for Norfolk and Hertfordshire, said the all day event was a chance for participants to put into practice some of the tips they had picked up and present themselves to potential employers.

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'We have invited 370 people who are coming in groups of 40,' she said. 'There's a range of people, some people may have had recent work experience, some may have been made redundant, some may have never worked. The job market has definitely changed and the job for us is to know who is recruiting and what opportunities there are and match them to the clients.

'We work very closely with the Job Centre. There are 37,000 job opportunities in Norfolk, but they may not be in fields people are used to working in, so it's about identifying transferable skills.'

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Chris Smithson, 19, from Beverley Road, North Earlham, in Norwich, who was referred to the scheme two months ago, said he was looking for a job in either retail or cleaning.

'They've helped me with CVs and with compiling letters,' he said. 'I've been given training on how to be more confident in interviews. They are really good.'

Paul Baldry, 24, from Laburnum Avenue, in Taverham, said he was hoping to get a job working with computers.

'It can be depressing when you are out of work, and this has been a boost to my confidence,' he said. 'They helped update some of my skills, which were a bit rusty, and I've been getting a lot of help with the advisors.'

Joanne Davies, 33, from Tunstead, near Wroxham, who has moved back to Norfolk from Hartlepool, said she had received two job offers, including trial work in the restaurant at Wroxham Barns, and in a Londis shop in Coltishall.

'I'm really pleased,' she said. 'I've just moved here and getting a job will help me meet people.'

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