At PeoplePlus, our staff clearly don’t do anything by halves.

More than 50 offices and academies threw open their doors to MPs, employers, local organisations and customers last Friday (April 15) as staff pulled together to turn the inaugural Employability Day into a thrilling success.

Across the UK, guests were dazzled with activities such as employer ‘speed-dating’ events and jobs fairs, mini-markets to showcase products made by enterprise customers, Dragon’s Den-style challenges and expert advice sessions on money, Universal Credit, mental health and wellbeing, learning and skills opportunities and employability.

By the time the last sausage roll had been eaten, staff had also managed to pull off a spectacular coup – lining up interviews for job vacancies for at least 300 customers (and still counting!).

We also raised hundreds of pounds for charity through raffles, and business managers reported their offices had succeeded in building stronger links with dozens of local employers, JCP and community organisations. Among leading employers who attended our events – many of them offering job and apprenticeship vacancies – were McDonald's, Newcastle United FC, The Range and Yo Sushi, Rail Gourmet and Staffline - thanks to the efforts of our Employer Relationship Managers.

Many of our customers also played key roles in the activities, either showcasing new businesses, giving talks about the support they had received to find work or lending a hand to serve refreshments.

Praise and support came from high places. Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, the Shadow Work and Pensions Minster who visited the Newport office, told business manager Peter Gater he was impressed by our staff, even tweeting a photo of himself with the team afterwards, with the words ‘Great to meet the committed staff of PeoplePlusuk today’. Minster for Employment Priti Patel also wrote an article for City AM, in which she praised employer providers for their part in delivering ‘excellent results’ through the Work Programme to help half a million people into work.

Employability Day was created by ERSA, the representative body to the employment support sector, to show key stakeholders, such as local networks, agencies and businesses, what employment support does in their community.

Senior Business Manager Kal Dhaliwal, who saw nearly 100 customers come through the doors of the Slough office, summed up the success of the event, saying:

For the staff to manage an event of this magnitude and do it with such professionalism throughout made me very proud to wear my PeoplePlus badge.

Here’s a round-up of just some of the achievements that turned the day into such a success:

  • In Sheffield, astonished staff were greeted by a queue of more than 100 customers at the door when the office opened to guests at 10am, and a further 100 followed to attend their jobs fair.
  • The Slough office also welcomed nearly 100 customers, with 33 completing interviews and 55 registering with employers brought in by ERM Adam Hatjoullis including Staffline, The Range, May Personnel and Encore. Amanda Steel, part of the Money Advice Service team, saw 36 customers for advice sessions, and enterprise coach Anil Kumar met 21 customers interested in becoming self-employed.
  • In Barking, a mini-market to showcase products made by enterprise coaches proved to be popular, with home-made cupcakes, T-shirts, wedding photography and Indian food on display and a Dragon’s Den workshop, allowing customers to create a new product from scratch, led to one customer creating a new mobile phone app. Nine customers are also looking forward to interviews at Kenco and Team Work this week thanks to the push to invite employers, reports business Manager Helena Choudhrey.
  • Further north, the Manchester office managed to arrange 55 interviews for customers with McDonalds, one of the employers who attended, reporting that they were delighted by the quality of applicants. A raffle organised by Business manager Gleason Bradburn also saw four lucky guests go home with computer tablets. Together with other regional Work Programme offices including Warrington, Leigh, Bolton, Chester, Oldham and Ashton, CPA7 saw nearly 250 customers on the day. Ashton’s focus was on the over 50s, with tailored job search sessions and an enterprise workshop geared to older jobseekers.
  • Off-site, staff in the Crewe office hosted an open day at Morrison’s in Gadbrook Park, Northwich, where Staffline is helping to source warehouse distribution staff to supply 150 outlets. Senior Contracts Manager Krzysztof Pilat and Regional Director Michelle Shenton took the lead to discuss the opportunities available to all customers – and this morning (Monday) four customers were due to start new jobs at the plant.
  • In Wales, business leaders Peter Gater and Kelly Holbrook managed to squeeze an impressive 22 employers and partners invited by the Newport, Pontypool and Ebbw Vale teams into the Newport office. An innovative raffle saw customers receive a raffle ticket on arrival and from each employer they met, with 327 customers completing job search activities in one afternoon. More than 40 customers are now looking forward to job interviews this week, reports Regional Director Joel Payne. In Flint, the team used the day to forge stronger partnerships with several local employers and expect to secure apprenticeship opportunities for customers.
  • Guests had a treat when catering students from PeoplePlus Stockton Academy prepared a delicious breakfast and lunch before a tour of the facilities. In Newcastle, Yo Sushi offered job trials in ten customers and Newcastle United FC interviewed customers for steward vacancies. Elsewhere in the region, Hartlepool hosted 14 employers, and the local college offered five customers to a complementary hair cut and blow dry to boost their confidence for interviews.
  • Elsewhere in the region, in Sutherland and North Shields, customers were invited to take part in expert advice sessions, and explore opportunities with Learning Curve, Blueline and Union taxis, and Bright House.
  • In Rotherham, 25 customers attend the information session with Toyada Godsei, from the Cordant Group, which resulted in 16 going forward for an assessment day later this week.