MORE than 1,000 posts were up for grabs at a jobs fair organised by South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck in the town today.
The event at South Tyneside College attracted hundreds of eager jobseekers, with lengthy queues before the doors opened and 140 people attended within the first 45 minutes.
Among the 18 companies represented were Barbour, the Port of Tyne, the Quality Hotel at Boldon, Sunderland AFC and Zenith People.
More than 1,000 full and part-time jobs were on offer in a wide range of fields, including administration, manufacturing, care work, engineering, in addition to apprenticeships.
Those who attended were able to apply for the jobs on the spot by submitting their CVs.
Mrs Lewell-Buck had made staging a jobs fair one of her pledges when she stood as the Labour candidate to succeed David Miliband as town MP.
And the event was borne out of her own personal experience of unemployment as a younger woman.
When she and her office staff started organising it in June, just a month after her election, she made it a stipulation that only firms offering real jobs should be invited along.
She said: “I didn’t want anyone coming along if they couldn’t offer a job, because I know how disheartening that would be.
“We have 3,500 unemployed people in South Shields so I know we can’t solve the problem in one go, but this should at least make a dent in those figures. The government is doing nothing, so we have to try.
“I remember being unemployed for some months, a number of years ago, and I’m so privileged that in my role as MP I can provide support to jobseekers today. I was also anxious that there wasn’t just seasonal and part jobs made available.”
Mrs Lewell-Buck said that after the jobs fair’s success it could now become an annual event. She also utilised the event to bolster her own office staff.
The MP set up a stall in search of a administrative secretary and a case worker, both part-time posts.
She added: “Sometimes when we have surgeries they can go on for four and a half hours and we need a case worker to address that workload.
“I’ve learned a lot today. One man who has been unemployed for six years told me the impact it had on his mental health. Getting a job would make a huge difference to him.
“There was a woman who has been a carer for 30 years who has been snapped up by an agency. That’s what we wanted, to make a positive difference to people’s lives.”