Two high-profile employers announced job creations last week despite vacancies plummeting across the UK.
The firms also pledged to use the government’s Local Employment Partnership (LEP) scheme to recruit the long- and short-term unemployed.
High-street retailer Debenhams said it would create 1,200 jobs by 2011 despite announcing a fall in profits, because it was planning to open a further eight stores, while budget hotel chain Travelodge revealed it would create another 200 jobs by building 12 new hotels this year.
Debenhams’ HR director Nikki Zamblera said: “We are delighted to be creating these new jobs at a time when there has been so much bad news for the sector. Our continued work with the LEPs and training provided through Jobcentre Plus together with [sector skills council] Skillsmart Retail means that many of these new roles could be filled by those who have been unemployed for a while.”
Travelodge, renowned for using the government’s LEP scheme, said all entry-level staff would be recruited through Jobcentre Plus.
James Purnell, the secretary of state for work and pensions, praised employers that took the responsibility to help get people back to work. He insisted there were still jobs available, and that the LEP scheme – whereby Jobcentre Plus works with those out of work to prepare them for the jobs market – was a success.
“We have opened up the scheme for people who have just lost their jobs, so that they too can benefit and get back into employment,” he said.
About 120,000 people have found jobs through the LEP scheme since its launch in 2007. The government aims to secure a further 150,000 jobs through the programme by 2010.