TIMES are tough in Swindon’s job market, which has felt the effects of the UK’s recession more than most.

The employment rate of 16 to 64 year-olds fell by almost 10% between 2006 and 2011, according to official figures.

Thankfully there are plenty of initiatives around to help people find a way back into work.

That’s why the Advertiser has launched a new campaign to highlight the valuable work being done by volunteers helping people in Swindon to re-enter the workforce.

One such scheme is the weekly Job Club at New College, which provides practical support and advice for jobseekers.

Established in 2011, the club offers free help with CV writing, finding job vacancies, reviewing job sites, completing job applications and preparing for interviews.

Last year the group moved into a larger room in the college after receiving £500 of equipment from Barclays, including a new printer, a mobile phone and stationery.

“It is very difficult for people to find any jobs at the moment and we are trying to point people in the right direction to look,” said Jo Tomlinson, the club’s facilitator and one of three volunteers who run the service.

“A lot of the people who come in are not great with their computer skills and we can help them.

“Also, a lot of people just don’t know where to look for jobs, it might have been several years since they last had to apply for a job and technology has changed a lot since then.”

One attendee is Mike Howard, who has been out of work for two years.

The 46-year-old from Old Town estimates he has applied for between 300 and 400 jobs, in everything from IT to security, since he was laid off from his job as a forklift driver.

“There doesn’t seem to be a lot of work in Swindon at the moment,” he said.

“The job club is good because now you have to send your CVs in and send emails so they help with that.”

Jon Day, 47, of Walcot, said the job club has given him valuable support since he was made redundant at Christmas.

“The job club have been good in helping me to sort out my CV and it gives me the time to sit and just apply for jobs,” he said.

“It has been more than 20 years since I had to apply for jobs and a lot has changed since then.”

MP for Swindon North Justin Tomlinson said the club provides a fantastic resource for Swindon’s unemployed.

“The team of volunteers can provide help with job applications, CVs and interview preparation which, from speaking with those at the club on Friday, have made a huge difference to those out of work,” he said.

“I’d urge anyone who needs a little bit of guidance in job applications or who feels like they are not making progress in their job search to pop along one Friday and make use of the support the volunteers can give.”

The club runs every Friday from 10am to noon. No booking is necessary.

Call 01793 732892 or email info@fastforward.newcollege.ac.uk for more information.

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