Everyone who has ever put on an event will know the feeling of worry beforehand. Will it work? Will anyone come?
I needed to have no such worries last week about my latest Jobs Fair in the Job Centre at County Square. Employers from the public, private and voluntary sectors filled the room with their stall, and there was even a queue outside the door at the start.
Through the course of the morning we counted nearly four hundred people who came in, and I know from talking to them and to the employers that many of them showed a positive interest in finding a position. A number of them were not unemployed at the moment, unsurprisingly as the numbers out of a job in Ashford are at a very low level, but were either looking for extra hours or a career change.
There were also clear indications of new elements that make up the labour market in and around Ashford. We had a Ukrainian translator on hand to help her compatriots find work, and also a guide for Afghans who want a job in the town.
At the same time I was discussing with the excellent and helpful Job Centre staff how we can increase our efforts to help disabled people into work. We know that since Covid the number of working age people who are not working but not claiming unemployment benefits has risen alarmingly, with much of this due to mental health issues.
Overall I hope that most of the hundreds who attended found that they learned about chances in life that they were not aware of before. I also hope the employers found a source of future highly motivated workers. My thanks again to the Department of Work and Pensions not just for hosting, but for the work they do every day to help people into work.