By RYAN McALEER
HOSPITALITY businesses have been urged to take on ex-retail workers in a new employment drive to help fill vacancies ahead of the full reopening of the sector later this month.
The closure of well-known high street names like Debenhams and the Arcadia group has left hundreds of people out of work in recent months.
And with hospitality businesses now on major recruitment drives, trade bodies Hospitality Ulster and the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium have joined with the Jobs & Benefits Office in urging employers and ex-retail staff to use the JobCentre Online (JCOL) digital platform as an effective way to connect with each other.
Colin Neill, of Hospitality Ulster, said the platform allows employers to be specific about the employee they need for a particular role, which he said in turn ensures the right candidate is selected for the job.
“The easy-to-use website will save hospitality business owners time, effort and money when recruiting and will allow the focus to be on getting the person that qualifies for the role, so they hit the ground running,” he said.
Aodhán Connolly, of the NI Retail Consortium, added: “The pandemic has been very tough on the retail sector and has seen both small retailers and household names stumble, resulting in redundancies.
“Whilst there is still a bright future for many retail outlets, it is important that we work together to highlight employment opportunities for those who have regrettably lost their jobs in the retail industry due to the current crisis.”
Meanwhile, the Department for Communities is embarking on a fresh drive to get employers to sign up to the JobStart programme.
The £20 million employer incentive is expected to create 3,000 new job opportunities for 16-24 year-olds by next year.
At least 270 employers have already signed up since the official launch last month.
It offers businesses funding to create job opportunities for a period of six to nine months.
Speaking after a visit to Crowded Space Drones, a video production company which has offered nine positions to JobStart participants, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey said: “JobStart aims to develop employability skills and to place young people in positions which align with their individual skills and interests.
“I would encourage other employers to take this opportunity to invest in our young people and to benefit from the strengths that they can bring to your business.”