Huge response for Palmers’ job offer

MORE than 400 job-seekers competed for two part-time coffee-shop jobs at a Great Yarmouth department store this week – providing an “eye-opening” snapshot of the current employment scene.

Palmers was forced to close applications early, such was the response to the advert in the Mercury and Advertiser – reckoned the largest in the store’s 170-year plus history.

It comes as new figures reveal that 5.8pc of Yarmouth’s working age population are on Jobseeker’s Allowance – by far the highest rate of any local authority in the East of England.

Meanwhile the number of people claiming unemployment benefits in Great Yarmouth rose by 204 to 3,465 in December. The percentage of men on Jobseeker’s Allowance is 8.5pc compared to 3.2pc of women.

Office manager at Palmers Sharon Heggie said they would still be handing out application forms today for the washer-upper and coffee room assistant had they not brought the deadline forward after the number topped a staggering 400.

“We were absolutely inundated. The phone was ringing off the hook. In the end we closed it on the Saturday afternoon. By that point we had already given out 400 application forms.

“It is something I have never seen or experienced in the 10 years I have been here. We just could not cope with it. It was absolutely overwhelming. Normally 100 would be an amazing amount.

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“I rang the Jobcentre asking them to stop sending people but they had not been sending any.

“We have never put that many hours in on the telephone. At some point we just had to draw a line under it.”

She said a minority of applicants were looking to fulfil jobseeker criteria to boost their benefit claim but that most were keen and willing to roll up their sleeves and work.

Mrs Heggie said the applications had come from a broad range of people from school-leavers to older workers looking to top up their pensions, all of whom were enthusiastic about the 26-hour and 18-hour roles.

“It is probably the most major response we have ever seen in Palmer’s 170-odd history. It certainly was eye-opening.”

Palmers director Stuart McGee said that because the company was overrun with applications it would be unable to thank everyone individually, adding he was grateful for all the responses.

Personnel manager Jean Elam said: “I have been delighted with the response and the calibre of the applicants.”

It is understood around 30 applicants may be selected for interview.

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