Jobs lifeline for dumped Northwood workers

YOUNG people dumped by failed firm Northwood Environmental have been offered a jobs lifeline by a Swindon furniture company – after it offered to take some of them on.

Oak Furniture Land has opened up 15 positions at its Swindon factory and in administrative roles, which it has said it will consider the young people for.

Northwood, on the Hawks-worth Trading Estate, near the Outlet Village, was placed into liquidation on Monday with 65 workers and trainees made redundant on the spot.

The recycling company had been set up to reduce youth unemployment in Swindon by providing NVQ work-based training in manufacturing.

But it folded with managing director James Jennings claiming that its training provider, Skillsfinder UK, owed the enterprise £250,000. Skillsfinder has consistently refuted the allegation.

Sarah Maisey, who was formerly operations director for Northwood, said of the lifeline for the young workers: “It’s brilliant news.

“We had a good meeting with Oak Furniture Land and they will be interviewing young people who are work-ready.

“They are looking to expand and to take on at least 15 people.

“I’m not sure if they will be able to continue with the NVQ training but it is a positive first step. We are still in the early days and the next step is to pass on the CVs next week.”

The lifeline was brokered by North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson.

He said: “I was speaking to Oak Furniture and they were telling me they were struggling to recruit warehouse staff and then I suddenly thought of the young people at Northwood.

“I am very pleased I was able to put them in touch.”

The posts made available will be paid roles for former Northwood apprentices who are over 18 – the age limit for employees in the company’s factory.

Northwood failed to pay the trainees on Friday, with some having gone two months without wages. One worker Britainy Clark, 17, said earlier in the week that she had not had any success finding another job.

Leanne Pogson, HR manager for Oak Furniture Land’s parent company GB Global, said: “We are expanding and that includes recruiting for roles in our warehouse and for admin positions.

“Once we have the CVs early next week we will look to get the candidates in for interview as quickly as possible.

“We are aware there were a number of people affected by the closure and we are always looking for good people to help us fill new roles.

“We hope to fill some if not all the positions with the people who were affected.”

Mr Jennings released a statement yesterday apologising “wholeheartedly” for the fiasco.

He said: “It is devastating that our original intent of providing a solid first step on the career ladder for young people hasn’t happened.”

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