‘I feel totally rejected’: What challenges do Ipswich jobseekers face looking for work?
PUBLISHED: 16:52 10 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:46 11 October 2019
They ranged from those emigrating to the UK to follow their dreams, to job-hunters trying to overcome repeated rejections after months of looking for work.
But if there is one thing that motivates all those at the 2019 Ipswich Jobs Fair, it is one thing - the determination to build a brighter future for themselves.
Suffolk's waterfront town has faced a series of well-documented economic challenges in recent years, with Flow Energy and the Co-op distribution centre being two of the most recent places to lay out dozens of workers.
This year's Ipswich Jobs Fair - run by Ipswich Borough Council and Jobcentre Plus - was therefore largely tailored to workers from those two former employers - but also included stalls from a variety of organisations such as Suffolk Constabulary and technology businesses.
Michelle Gordon, economic development manager at the council, said the event - attended by 1,000 people - provided an important service.
"It's a shame because a lot of the jobs in Ipswich aren't visible on the high street so people don't necessarily know they're there," she said.
"There were two redundancies recently at large companies, which were Flow Energy and the Co-op distribution centre, so we have tailored the job fair to suit the needs of the hundreds of people we know are now looking for jobs.
"It's hard to be unemployed in the run up to Christmas so we're hoping to make some people happy."
Alex and Callum's story
At 19 years old, both young men are currently unemployed and on Universal Credit, but are starting to feel disheartened as they keep searching.
Callum Kempton, from Ipswich, said: "I have been looking for the past three years since 2016 when I left high school. It's slowly becoming more dull with each rejection.
"When I first started I will admit I had a few months of down period because I just was depressed, didn't feel like going out and just sat in my room doing my own thing.
"But over the course of three years I have kind of just felt totally rejected."
His friend Alex Cruz, from the Greenwich area of Ipswich, has been looking for a year now and struggles with the isolation of being an unemployed adult.
He said: "School didn't prepare us. All they did was the basics of maths and English which is obviously an essential thing to get but they never bothered to do anything more."
He feels that companies are also not supportive enough during the application process to ensure the entry criteria is understandable.
He said: "Often times when you apply to a job, they'll say: 'Do you have this particular certification?' or they'll say: 'Do you have A-levels?' and you'll think to yourself: 'Do I have that?'"
Alex has a BTEC equivalent in business studies but was unaware of how much value hiring managers attached to this qualification.
He added: "Feedback is actually something which is a lot more scarce these days because a lot of people don't hear back from companies when they apply .
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"It's often a case of if you don't hear back, then you don't have the job.
"But sometimes the feedback can be really helpful. It's better to hear something than nothing at all really."
Callum has faced mental health issues for years and has the additional stress of supporting himself on Universal Credit as he lives alone with his brother.
He said: "I have just moved out and when money issues start coming up I have to stack that over the already present dread of not being able to get a job.
"So I've been forcing myself out for the past month to get a job and every time I get declined, I get more and more worried that I'm going to get evicted because of my rent."
Oksana spent most of the fair speaking with the Suffolk Constabulary, where she is determined to work now that she has moved to Ipswich.
She comes from Latvia and speaks six different languages, which she hopes to put to good use in the force as a translator.
She said: "I used to work as a police officer in Latvia, where I was an investigator in the criminal police.
"When I worked as an investigator I didn't need to wait for an interpreter from the state police because if I understood Russian there are a lot of Russian people living in Latvia, so my work became easier because of all of my languages."
Oksana learnt to speak different languages as she had many friends with different nationalities back home in Latvia where she learnt Russian, English, Belarusian, Polish and Ukrainian, alongside her native tongue.
She said: "It will help in my job I think because in Suffolk there are many different nationalities. I think my knowledge could be very helpful for them.
"I hope I can come back to my work which I found very special and interesting because it is my dream to work for Suffolk Police."
Alexandra moved to the UK last year and came to the job fair to pursue her dream of becoming an accountant.
She said: "I have much to offer and I am very positive. I am a person with high ambitions, so I think it will be good.
"I learnt English in the last year and now I have a qualification in accounting from the Cavan Institute in Ireland."
Alexandra is from Moldova and has lived in Russia and Ireland, before moving to England in April with her husband.
She said: "When I moved to Ireland I got this opportunity to do accountancy again and enter into another world and meet new people and a new country.
"I like people and communicating and experiencing change. It's a good day here to find something."
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