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Mercury interview John about local employment

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Hundreds of jobs, apprenticeships and volunteering opportunities will be up for grabs next week at Weston-super-Mare Jobs Fair.

The event is organised by Weston MP John Penrose and will take place at Weston College Conference Centre, in Lower Church Road, on Tuesday from 3-7pm.

Mr Penrose today offers an insight into the fair and what he hopes to achieve.

Q: What inspired you to double up to two jobs fairs per year?

A: There’s a basic business principle of always listening to your customers, so when local firms in areas like hospitality and construction told us they have recruitment drives in the new year, we asked whether a second jobs fair would help. They said yes, so here we are.

Q: Is it suitable for everyone?

A: Yes. It doesn’t matter if you’ve already got a job but fancy a change, if you’re looking for an opportunity as an apprentice, or if you’ve been searching for a while and want to speak to an expert about how to improve your chances, there’ll be something for you.

Q: What advice would you give to job-hunters who attend?

A: First impressions are very important, so dress smartly and don’t forget to bring lots of spare copies of your CV. Also, if you are trying to make yourself more employable, have a look at voluntary opportunities which could round out your résumé.

Q: Are you pleased with the list of employers attending?

A: Absolutely. We’ve got more local firms and organisations looking to hire staff than ever, from big employers like Bristol Airport, McDonald’s or Brandon Trust, to a wide range of smaller employers too.

Q: How do you hope to build on the success of previous fairs?

A: Each year we try to introduce new things to make the next fair that bit better. This year we’ve introduced the employability zone to help people who may need a bit of extra support getting ready for that crucial first role. We’ve changed the time too, so people who’ve already got a job but want to move up can drop in without having to take time off work.

Q: Could you tell me more about the employability zone?

A: Finding that first job can be tricky, but for some it’s even harder. If you’re a jobseeker with a disability, or an older person who wants to get back into work after a break, or a parent returning to work now your children are at school, it can be daunting. So we’ve got local experts on hand to offer tailored advice and support.

Q: Is unemployment a problem in Weston?

A: I always say even one person who can’t find a job is one too many. But, even so, the latest jobs figures came out last week and they’re pretty encouraging. Our local unemployment rate is around 1.8 per cent, which is miles better than the national average of 2.4 per cent. That’s less than a thousand people and 85 fewer than last year. So there’s real progress, but we must not stop now.

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