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Tesco jobs boost draws mixed reaction

April 1, 2013

Opinion was divided on last week’s announcement by Tesco that it is to begin its recruitment campaign for staff to man its new store in Newry.

Despite the supermarket giant’s pledge to create 200 jobs in the town, local business people and city centre traders have criticised the move, believing the new store may have a negative impact on trade in the city centre, displacing jobs and putting city centre businesses at risk.

The Department of Employment welcomed the Tesco recruitment drive saying it had forged strong links with the company.  Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry described the recruitment campiagn as “good news” for local job seekers.

The Minister said: “I welcome Tesco’s commitment to recruit over 200 new employees in Newry and to work with my Department’s Employment Service to assist with the filling of these vacancies through the Job Centre network. This is a substantial number of jobs being created by an international company and is excellent news for the local economy.

“One of my Department’s primary aims is to prepare people for work – helping individuals to acquire jobs, including self-employment, helping employers to fill vacancies, and improving the linkages between employment programmes and skills development. An active and vigorous labour market is a key element in growing a dynamic, innovative economy and promoting social inclusion, whilst meeting individuals’ and employers’ aspirations.”

Town centre traders however are sceptical about the job numbers promised with the Chairman of Newry City Centre Management, Jack Murphy drawing attention to the number of working hours promised as opposed to the number of jobs.  Mr Murphy also said planners “had a lot to answer for” by allowing the out-of-town store to be built and said the supermarket chain will have a profit margin to meet which will come, not just from the town centre but from surrounding areas as well. The proprietor of Jack Murphy Jewellers, called on local people to continue to support town centre businesses.

“Newry has a strong city centre that is the envy of most other cities. The traders have come through much tougher times and if the people of Newry continue to support what is happening in their town centre we will come through this challenge as well” he said.

Sinn Féin MLA Mickey Brady has also expressed his concerns about the impact the new store may have on the town centre. While he welcomed the jobs boost created by Tesco, Brady stressed the importance of Newry retaining a vibrant and thriving town centre and called on Newry Council and Newry Chamber of Commerce to take measures to maintain a successful town centre.

“I would also be conscious that many of the jobs offered by Tesco will be part-time and based on a temporary contract rather than permanent full-time jobs” he added.

Tesco, however, claims its recruitment process offers a full range of full and part-time positions, with all new employees undergoing Tesco’s bespoke training programme.

The supermarket chain says it will also be offering unemployed young people in the Newry area the opportunity to avail of work experience with the company through DEL’s Youth Employment Scheme (YES). Further information about YES is available on http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/yes.

Details of job opportunities with Tesco are available on the Department of Employment and Learning website www.jobcentreonline.com. Local Jobs & Benefits offices will also have details on the range of positions available and can offer useful help and advice on the Tesco online application process.

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