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Poor English blamed for small uptake at jobs fair

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: January 17, 2013

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A LACK of basic literacy skills and an inability to speak good English were two reasons employers refused to offer jobs to attendees at a council-sponsored careers fair, it has been claimed.

More than 860 positions were on offer at East Staffordshire Borough Council’s job opportunities day last September, at which employers hosted stalls and spoke to prospective recruits.

But newly released figures show just 77 people walked away with a job on the day. A further 42 candidates made arrangements for a follow-up interview or appointment.

Council officer Simon Humble wrote in a report due to be presented to councillors: “Concerns have been raised that there were a high number of opportunities available but only 14 per cent were filled.

“This issue is due to the fact that there weren’t the right calibre of applicants for the types of jobs that were available.

“There were obvious issues with basic reading and writing and a lot of the applicants didn’t speak English as their first language.

“This highlighted a definite lack of skills.”

The report said 226 people attended the event at the Meadowside Leisure Centre, off Burton High Street.

It was heavily marketed and a shuttle bus was laid on to transport people to the event from the Anglesey area of Burton, one of the town’s most deprived wards where unemployment is among the highest in East Staffordshire.

The report said: “Statistics identified that Anglesey had some of the highest unemployment levels in East Staffordshire.

“The worklessness action group decided to target this specific ward in an attempt to try and improve its unemployment levels.”

The comments were included in a document due to be considered by councillors as part of a review of job creation and skills shortages in the borough.

As well as those who were offered jobs, interviews or follow-up appointments on the day, a further six left the event with advice on self-employment and four were offered voluntary positions.

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  • Burton Mail  |  January 18 2013, 3:25PM

    Let's be honest, how many of these 'opportunities' were genuine jobs that offered candidates the chance to get off benefits, earn a real living, and gain some dignity and self-respect? Having had the misfortune to be out of work myself recently, I have attended more than one of these events. I have always come away from them with a sense of anti-climax and the feeling that my time would have been more productively spent at home with my laptop and mobile. I am a native English speaker with a perfectly adequate grasp of the written and spoken word (although I say so myself), I always made sure my appearance was nothing other than professional and was complimented on my attitude on a number of occasions. If I'm struggling, then maybe employers need to lower their expectations. Why do you need anything more than the most basic numeracy and literacy skills to work in a factory or warehouse in any case?