More than 100 new Tesco recruits attended a graduation ceremony at Sunderland College to celebrate the completion of their training and an end to living on benefits.
MORE than 100 new Tesco recruits attended a graduation ceremony at Sunderland College to celebrate the completion of their training and an end to living on benefits.
The Tesco Extra store is due to open in Roker next month (June) and will employ 300 staff – 120 of whom had been unemployed for six months or more.
Sunderland College delivered an eight-week training programme for the 120-strong group providing them with the opportunity to gain relevant skills, recognised qualifications and work experience.
During the programme the group had to organise a charity event which raised nearly £2,000 for Tesco’s chosen charity, Diabetes UK.
The event was a huge success and was attended by more than 650 people, raising nearly much-needed funds for the charity.
The glittering graduation style ceremony held at the College at the end of the training course was a chance for the students to get together and celebrate their success.
One of the new Tesco staff is dad-of-two Michael Brown, 41, from Sunderland.
Michael was eager to get back to work after three years spent job hunting.
Michael said: “I thought I would get back into work straightaway but with the way the economy is that was impossible.
“I was doing my best to better myself but it was sometimes one step forward and two steps back.”
Michael spends a lot of time looking after his two children, including six-year-old Ethan who is disabled and 18 year-old daughter.
The devoted dad found it difficult to secure a job which was flexible enough to allow him to take Ethan to his regular hospital appointments.
After registering his interest in one of the jobs Michael was called in for an interview.
He said: “I was apprehensive at the interview stage because I hadn’t had an interview for years but when I got the letter to say I was successful it was a great feeling.
“I would love to be able to save up enough money to take my children back to Florida – Ethan was just ten months old when we went there last time, and it would be great to be able to go back there with him now he’s older.”
Michelle Elliott, Head of Employer and Employability at Sunderland College, said: “Michael’s story is fantastic and one the many success stories we’re hearing.
“The College has been working closely with Tesco, Jobcentre Plus and Sunderland City Council to put together a training programme that prepares staff for work in a modern retail environment.
“To be able to help so many people into work is great news for the College and for the city and is just one example of the College’s commitment to quality and to delivering bespoke training courses for employers.”
Doug Wilson, Tesco Corporate Affairs Manager, said: “Tesco is committed with Sunderland City Council to ensuring that people who have been out of work for six months or more are given every opportunity and the support they need to work in our new Sunderland store.
“We have been delighted with their attitude and enthusiasm in seizing the chance to help us deliver a new and exciting shopping experience for the city.”