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Home   Thanet   News   Article

Kent Potato Company at St Nicholas-at-Wade provides 44 jobs for longterm unemployed Thanet people through Royal British Legion Industries, Margate.

27 March 2014
by Mary Louis
North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale shares good news stories with previously longterm unemployed people who have found work at the Kent Potato Company, St Nicholas-at-Wade, through Royal British Legion Industries based in Margate.

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale shares good news stories with previously longterm unemployed people who have found work at the Kent Potato Company, St Nicholas-at-Wade, through Royal British Legion Industries based in Margate.

Potatoes are at the root of one significant success story by a charity trying to get long-term unemployed people back into work in Thanet.

The Work Programme (WP) office run by the Royal British Legion Industries in Margate, has successfully placed 44 people into jobs with Kent Potato Company (KPC) at St Nicholas.

Excellent results with KPC, which processes about 600 tons of potatoes each week and supplies major supermarkets, are a significant part of the ongoing role played by the office.

It was opened last year by North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale and has helped numerous people into jobs.

Royal British Legion Industries recruiter Robin Collison (left), North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale and Kent Potato Company manager Matt Maughan.

Royal British Legion Industries recruiter Robin Collison (left), North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale and Kent Potato Company manager Matt Maughan.

Not only does the WP office help people turn their lives around by finding them work, it is of value to employers because it offers a free recruitment service.

The Margate team of eight advisers supports jobseekers as part of the DWP Work Programme.

Recruiter Robin Collison works with potential employers to find jobs, including high street stores, warehouses and businesses, and guides jobless people through the recruitment process.

Some had never worked, others had been unemployed for years.

MP Sir Roger Gale with spuds ready for sale at UK supermarkets, produced by Kent Potato Company at St Nicholas-at-Wade.

MP Sir Roger Gale with spuds ready for sale at UK supermarkets, produced by Kent Potato Company at St Nicholas-at-Wade.

Mr Collison said: “For the people working at KPC, which is our biggest employer in Thanet, for most their jobs have totally changed their lives.” For example, mums once living off £25 per week were now earning £300 instead. The WP team was helping to provide them with a chance.

The KPC environment was “fast and busy”, workers were involved in grading and packing potatoes, some with forklift driving. Some had been swiftly promoted to match their potential.

KPC was using the WP office as their main recruitment source.

He explained how the WP office worked with individuals, re-writing CVs, assessing their skills and what they wanted to do, and sending pre-screened candidates for job interviews.

Practical assistance was even provided to ensure they could get there.

The WP team arranged free training so candidates could gain necessary qualifications to ensure they could get work in certain sectors, for example Security Industry Authority badges and Construction Scheme Certification. It was possible to run other in-house courses when there was sufficient demand, for example IT qualifications.

WP advisors stayed in contact for two years with each person placed in work, providing support.

Beardsley Hawthorne and George Costi grading potatoes at the Kent Potato Company, St Nicholas-at-Wade.

Beardsley Hawthorne and George Costi grading potatoes at the Kent Potato Company, St Nicholas-at-Wade.

The team could provide initial financial help with transport and uniform costs, for example buying boots for new recruits to KPC.

The Margate office had a caseload of up to 200 people.

The team effectively provided an in-house recruitment process, streamlining the procedure, The office could even offer interview facilities for employers.

“What we do is so special because local employers are getting local people into work, in full-time, sustainable jobs,” said Mr Collison. He urged employers to contact him for free help with recruitment.

As well as delivering the Work Programme across much of the South East, RBLI, a national charity, continues to support the wider community by providing employment through its range of social enterprises, as well as giving welfare guidance and support to disabled and vulnerable people, and those leaving the Armed Forces.

Business wanting to access WP funding initiatives and use RBLI’s free recruitment and ongoing support services, should call 0800 319 6841. The RBLI office is located at East Kent ITeC, 99 Victoria Road, Margate, CT9 1RD.

Click here for more news from Thanet.

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