Bluewater training hailed by work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith
by business editor Trevor Sturgess
Bluewater, the retail and leisure complex, has won cabinet
plaudits for job creation and its pioneering training centre.
During a visit to The Learning Shop, work and pensions secretary
Iain Duncan Smith said the training facility was a great
example of the public and private sector working together.
The Learning Shop, a partnership between Bluewater developer
Lend Lease, North West Kent College and JobCentre Plus, has
brokered more than 32,000 jobs, trained 17,000 people and awarded
15,000 qualifications since Bluewater opened in 1999.
Mr Duncan Smith met jobseekers, trainees and staff, as well as
representatives from US fashion brand Forever 21, and Byron, a
When Forever 21 opened last year, it worked with The Learning
Shop to recruit and train people, especially 16 to
24-year-olds, for around 100 jobs.
Byron hired 18 staff, all previously unemployed, via The
Mr Duncan Smith was also told about Bluewater's plans to create
up to a further 2,300 new jobs from redevelopment of its West
He said: "The Learning Shop is a great example of the private
and public sector working together to deliver significant and
long-lasting benefits to a region.
"It has successfully worked with tens of thousands of people,
training and motivating them and crucially getting them into
jobs. I congratulate them on the work they're doing."
Iain Duncan Smith meets
staff at Forever 21 in Bluewater
Bluewater general manager Robert Goodman said evolution,
innovation and partnership were the three reasons for its continued
"The partnership with The Learning Shop is the best example of
this, and we have worked continuously to deliver real and
meaningful benefits to people living locally and in the wider north
"We are very proud, therefore, of what The Learning Shop
are delighted it is has received such strong endorsement from
secretary of state."