BOLTON’S Jobcentre is set to be a dedicated route to Christmas jobs, and is now a partner in schemes to tackle long term unemployment in the area. HELENA VESTY reports.

JOBCENTRES are using a new two-pronged approach to tackle Bolton's unemployment.

The Jobcentres will be directing people straight to Christmas jobs ahead of the festive season, and will also be training candidates and organising them guaranteed interviews for major regional employers in the next few weeks.

Working with two of Bolton’s biggest employers, Whistl at Logistics North and Keoghs Solicitors, the town’s two Jobcentres are partnering in a recruitment scheme to tackle long-term unemployment in the area.

The scheme will see Jobcentre clients start with an open day at the employer premises to learn more about the role and join a group interview.

Candidates who want to continue will get a week of pre-employment training with Bolton College, along with trial shifts, job shadowing and work experience opportunities.

After the training, all candidates are guaranteed a job interview and could go on to full-time work.

Whistl is looking to take on around 12 new employees and Keoghs, in late September, is going to add to 13 Jobcentre recruits taken on in March.

Darren Schofield, Whistl’s depot hub manager for Bolton, said: “We work in partnership with the local Jobcentres in Bolton because together we can identify the right people to apply for opportunities to work for one of the leading delivery management companies in the UK.”

Whistl says that the scheme has so far been successful in getting people into long-term employment, with the company employing 80 people through the scheme over two years. Over half of those employees are still working for the company and Whistl says it is always looking to take on more to help lift people out of unemployment.

Whistl outlined the ways that hopeful candidates can make themselves stand out. A spokesman said: “Whistl has three things that employees are expected to do at all times and we need potential recruits to show in the interview that they can act with a can-do attitude; think as part of the team; and do the right thing. We are a people business and need to ensure we can all work together towards the company’s future success.”

Keoghs Solicitors is aiming to break down the myth that employees need a law degree. Responsible business manager Rachel Mitchell-Denson said: “We developed an approach called “see me not CV” as we were interested in the person rather than their qualifications, or lack of.

“Keoghs is always looking for individuals with a positive attitude and good work ethic, who show initiative and resilience.”

Other big companies in Bolton are also now beginning the hunt for staff to work in the run up to Christmas and through the festive period.

Among them is Smyths Toys, which has a site at Middlebrook Retail Park. Smyths Toys has now started Christmas recruitment for temporary staff and Bolton’s Jobcentres are working with the international toymaker find new staff members, collecting CVs and setting up an interview schedule in the weeks ahead.

The two |Jobcentres are also working with Shop Direct, based in Little Hulton, with its latest recruitment drive. The online retailer is looking for staff to fill 80 temporary roles, raising awareness of how to apply.

James Harper, head of fulfilment at Shop Direct, said: “The run up to Christmas is a busy time of year for Shop Direct and we’ve got lots of opportunities across different shift patterns at Little Hulton starting in September. We’re looking for energetic temporary colleagues to help us deliver a great service for our customers during our peak period.”

Across Greater Manchester, Jobcentres are helping the Royal Mail with its Christmas recruitment, with more than 300 casual employees wanted for the season.

Bolton Jobcentres, in Black Horse Street and Great Moor Street, are running group sessions to talk through the different roles on offer and support Jobcentre customers in their application.

Jobcentre recruitment schemes in Bolton appear to be a success, as unemployment figures in the town have dropped substantially in recent years.

Penny Applegate, Bolton Partnership Manager for the Department for Work and Pensions, said: “Unemployment is at a much better figure than it was five years ago and it has been almost static for a year now.”

Over the last five years, the number of claimants and unemployed people seeking benefits has dropped by 18 per cent to 8,617 people across Bolton, according to the Jobcentre Plus figures.

The figure has risen by just 49 people over the last year.

The number of young people unemployed in Bolton is down 30 per cent in comparison to the figure five years ago. Bolton South East, the constituency with the highest number of unemployed, has also seen a 21 per cent decrease in the figure which now stands at 3,760 people.

The Great Moor Street Jobcentre is planning a jobs fair in the first week of October.