Tesco training scheme helps long-term unemployed

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Unemployed people living near a soon-to-be-opened Tesco store in Leeds are being offered the chance of a job there on the condition that they undertake 16 weeks of intensive classroom-based training.

The scheme is part of the Seacroft Partnership, an regeneration project aimed at tackling the high rate of unemployment in Seacroft, East Leeds, one of the most deprived areas in western Europe. Tesco has been working closely with Leeds City Council and Employment Services to identify local residents who for various reasons had not been able to secure a job. The scheme is the first time Tesco have offered jobs to candidates before relevant training had been undertaken.

The training programme, which is nearing an end, has covered 'everything from the 3R's to the art of customer care'. As well as basic skills provision, the programme also contained modules on employability and communication skills. Tescos were keen to try and address literacy, numeracy and basic skills provisions, as well as social exclusion, according to corporate affairs Manager Martin Venning; "we wanted to break the chain of circumstance in Seacroft and to do this we had to do something very dramatic.

Among those who have got jobs at the new store is Peter Gach who has landed his first ever full-time job at the age of 33, having applied for more than 250 vacancies since leaving school with no qualifications back in 1984.

He says: "I'm a bit shaky, a little nervous - but very excited. The training has given me confidence. This will be my first ever full-time job."

Tesco are also working with Elida Faberge, another large employer in the area to create a new childcare scheme, where a special `Super Childminder' co-ordinator will oversee all childminding arrangements. with a wide variety of accredited childcare provision including childminders, creches, play schemes and pre-school teaching. The Super Childminder will provide last-minute support for parents so that they can take up training and employment opportunities when they arise.

The schemes seem like a good idea, but there's no indication whether the training into jobs scheme will be repeated in future - it's likely that as with many such schemes, a lot will depend on available outside funding.

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