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Tourism firms feel summer job rush

14:45 24 April 2013

Archant

Applicant to job ratio is 125 to one in some cases.

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HOLIDAY parks and attractions in North Devon say they have been inundated with requests for seasonal work, with as many as 125 people applying for a single vacancy in some cases.

Despite new figures for March showing a year-on-year fall in the number of local people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), the condition of the North Devon jobs market has continued to be felt by the region’s tourism industry.

John Fowler Holidays, which has three parks in North Devon, one in Ilfracombe and two in Combe Martin, saw more than 370 people apply for just 31 seasonal jobs this year.

Senior manager Ollie Fowler said while the majority of jobs went to returning staff, the company saw around 12 people apply for each of the 25 part-time and six full-time jobs advertised – significantly higher than other years.

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“The park manager here at Ilfracombe said she had never seen the numbers of applicants go over three or four per job before,” he said.

“People won’t say when they come to interview that they are desperate for a job, but the sheer number of applicants for positions suggests that.

“We do really emphasise with local employment, it is such a big thing for us and we try to make it our sole purpose to employ people locally.”

Lynn Reynolds, commercial manager at Exmoor Zoo, said 125 people applied for a full-time job in the zoo café in the space of just five days.

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“The advert was originally booked in the Job Centre for two weeks but we had to close applications after five days due to the high level of interest,” she said.

The BIG Sheep attraction at Abbotsham received 400 job applications for just 15 jobs this year, while the Unison Croyde Bay Holiday Resort received 100 applications for around 10 vacancies.

Woolacombe Bay Holiday Parks said it had received a ‘high level’ of interest for around 200 seasonal jobs at the park since the start of the year, although it was difficult to pinpoint exact numbers.

A spokesperson said the park started recruiting for Golden Coast in February, and the other three parks in March, mostly for housekeeping positions.

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“We had masses of phone calls, not just lately for the three parks, but back in February for the opening of the Golden Coast,” she said.

A spokesperson for Park Resorts Limited, which runs Bideford Bay Holiday Park, near Bucks Cross, said it received in the region of 100 applications for jobs this year and was still receiving applications

“According to the seasonal staff figures, we have recruited 60 staff with another 10 needed,” a spokesperson told the Gazette.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 1,282 people in North Devon (2.3 per cent of the population) claimed the allowance in March, compared with 1,146 (3 per cent) in Torridge.

The figures represent a 15 per cent year-on-year drop in North Devon, and a 7 per cent drop in Torridge.

Of those receiving JSA, 31.8 per cent of claimants in North Devon were under the age of 24, compared with 32.2 per cent in Torridge.

BIG Sheep spokesperson Anne Tattersall said the company always took the time to respond to young people who apply for jobs.

“This is something we feel quite passionately about; as an employer you have a responsibility to respond to youngsters who have taken the time and effort to apply.

“It can damage their confidence when they don’t hear back, and we should be nurturing that.

“I would urge all employers to respond to applicants either way.”

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