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Southport and  Mersey Reporter -  Your free online newspaper service covering the Merseyside region - (Greater Liverpool).
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Issue:- 3 October 2014

Merseyside jobs fair helps long term unemployed into work

AT least 15 long term Merseyside jobseekers found employment and dozens more won interviews at a jobs fair organised by public services provider A4e.  Many had been out of work for months or even years and were all enrolled onto the Government's Work Programme to help prepare them for a move back into employment. A4e, which delivers the Work Programme in Liverpool, Bootle and Kirkby, invited more than 360 customers from the three locations to the fair and an incredible 75% of them turned up, showing just how keen Merseyside jobseekers are to find work. They were able to apply for more than 200 live vacancies in sectors including care, catering, retail and construction.  They had been prepared for interview, helped with their CVs and many had been through training and workshops to get them job ready.  The event, held at A4e's Liverpool office in Union Court on 17 September 2014, was opened by George Howarth MP and attended by 19 employers.

At least 15 people were offered jobs on the spot after impressing in interviews held at the fair and dozens more were shortlisted or invited for interviews. One retail chain invited 100 A4e customers for interview.  The Work Programme is designed to give better and more varied help to unemployed people than ever before. It does this by tailoring services to meet the needs of the individual – whether that's helping them overcome any barriers they have, such as health issues, debt or housing problems or addressing a skills gap. Customers are referred to A4e by the Jobcentre, and will have been claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for 3 or 6 months, depending on their circumstances. A4e also works with employers to encourage them to give long term unemployed people an opportunity to get off benefits and into sustainable employment, preparing appropriate customers for specific roles where possible at no cost to the employer.

Rachel Campbell, business leader for A4e Kirkby, said:- "The jobs fair was a tremendous success. We have had brilliant feedback from employers and our customers.  Our focus at A4e is to make sure our customers find the right job, first time.  Our experience has been that jobseekers who are matched with the right employer, rather than any job, and who have been trained to meet the specific demands of their new role, end up staying in employment longer.  This is why we've been working closely with national employers to set up 'routeways' courses in different sectors, helping our customers understand the requirements of different job roles and supporting them to develop soft skills. By doing this, they've gone on to speak confidently about their skills and experience to employers."

A4e has been working hard to establish an excellent team of professional staff with a range of specialist skills to support individuals across the UK. The flexibility given to service providers by the Work Programme has meant that A4e has been able to create a number of innovative programmes and specialist training to support local customers. A4e is delivering the Work Programme on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Job Centre Plus. The Work Programme is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF). The ESF in England is investing in jobs and skills; focusing on people who need support the most and helping them fulfil their potential.

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