Unemployed people in Ripon no longer have to pay expensive travel fares to Harrogate to access job seeker services after Ripon Salvation Army launched the city’s first Employment and Resource Centre (ERC).
The free, confidential service opened with the aim of helping unemployed people in Ripon improve their employability and secure a job.
ERC manager Pat Clark told the Gazette: “A number of factors were behind the decision to open the ERC in Ripon. Local people were seen as being especially disadvantaged by the absence of a job centre and other agencies and services in the city.
“Specialist help and advice could involve a costly round trip to Harrogate. As more employers advertise their vacancies online, those people with no access to a computer or limited IT knowledge are further disadvantaged as the library facilities offer only a short time for free.
“It was also recognised that unemployed people often have other concerns and problems and may need pointers to the appropriate agencies to resolve these.”
The ERC allows people to set up Universal Jobmatch accounts – a newly launched computer-based Government initiative used by job seekers to search for jobs and employers to advertise their vacancies – and offers in-house IT training.
Ms Clark said the introduction of the Universal Jobmatch system has emphasised the need for the ERC in Ripon.
“As its name suggests,” she said, “the system compares the details held in an individual jobseeker’s account with details of vacancies posted by employers.
“Employers are then provided with potential candidates ranked by best match as determined by the system. The CVs and contact details are sent off to the employers automatically.
Ripon Salvation Army was helped in launching the service with a grant from Job Centre Plus and donations of stationery from Wolseley centre.
The service also helps unemployed people polish their interview and presentation techniques and offers guidance on CVs, letter writing and application forms.
Ms Clark added: “The importance of the information held in a Universal Jobmatch account and the CV itself are clear.
“The ERC staff stress the importance of having your CV checked out in order to maximise your job prospects.”
The centre has arranged interviews for clients by direct telephone contact with employers, referred clients for skills training, and sign-posted others to benefits and housing applications.
The ERC is open every Friday from 9.30am-12.30pm as a drop-in.
Visitors to the centre may use the laptop and printer facilities independently for CV production and job searches and staff are on-hand to help and advise people when required.
Ms Clark said: “The service is entirely driven by the visitor’s wishes.
“The advantage of using this service is that it is person oriented – not driven by a computer programme, phone menu or checklist.”
Ms Clark also highlighted the service as a fantastic volunteering opportunity for people to gain experience, develop skills and grow confidence.
l For further information contact Pat Clark on 01765 692657 or email
firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the website on www.riponsalvationarmy.org.uk