Woburn Forest tackles youth unemployment with 41% of new recruits aged under 25

We've been working in partnership with North Hertfordshire College (NHC) and Jobcentre Plus to offer and advice and support

Ross Airson builds his first bike at the Cycle Centre
Ross Airson builds his first bike at the Cycle Centre
Ross Airson builds his first bike at the Cycle Centre
Ross Airson builds his first bike at the Cycle Centre

With a larger proportion of 16- to 24-year-olds now out of work than any other age group, we are pleased to reveal that 41 per cent of the new recruits so far at Woburn Forest are under the age of 25.

In the latest ONS Economic Report, it’s clear that youngsters have felt the force of the financial crisis – as of November last year, 633,000 were seeking work. But as the Woburn Forest recruitment drive reaches its halfway mark before opening, 950 of the already filled vacancies fall within the 16-24 age group.

It’s encouraging for the region’s local community and economic growth too, as in November a Quarterly Economic Monitoring Report showed that people in the 16 to 24 age group account for 23.1 per cent of all people claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance in Central Bedfordshire, which this recruitment figure is sure to alleviate.

Judi Leavor, HR Director at Center Parcs says: “It’s exciting that we’ve been able to offer opportunities to so many young people at a time where many of them are finding it tough to start their careers.”

A winning partnership
In line with Center Parcs’ policy to recruit locally wherever possible, we have been working together with North Hertfordshire College (NHC) and Jobcentre Plus, who have had a major role in offering support and advice to unemployed applicants through three-day pre-interview programmes.

“We recognise the talent and contribution that young people can make to the business” – Leavor

One young course attendee, Kerry Vincent, who had been long unemployed for 18 months and was losing confidence and motivation has been offered a position as a full-time housekeeper. She says: “I am really happy to have secured a job at Center Parcs, without the support I was given by my tutor [at NHC] I would never have got the job. I had been unemployed for 18 months and found it very difficult looking for work.”

But the help and support doesn’t stop there for the latest additions; Center Parcs is committed to developing its staff and helping them reach their full potential by offering a number of training initiatives. Every single employee who joins Center Parcs receives training, from formal inductions and health and safety to role-related courses, ranging from technical to legal as well as online e-learning programmes that can be accessed at any time. Leavor adds that Center Parcs’ internal management training course, ASPIRE, has also proved popular with more than 500 people completing the course since 2011.

Jobs for life
And it seems to be a winning formula – 20 per cent of Center Parcs employees have dedicated more than 10 years to the company, while a whopping 40 per cent have worked at Center Parcs for more than five years. Investment in training isn’t the only offering – investment in people and employee satisfaction also sits at the heart of Center Parcs’ employee ethos.

Leavor adds: “We recognise the talent and contribution that young people can make to the business. Because of this we don’t pay our young employees any less than our adult rate. There’s a national minimum wage of £6.31 for adults aged 21 and over, while – legally – you can pay under 18s £3.72 an hour. But we don’t do that, which shows our commitment to and the value we place on the skills that young people can bring.”

Ross Airson, a newly-employed Cycle Centre Attendant, is 19 and this is his first full-time job. He says: “I’ve had previous experience working with bikes and doing cycle rides for charity. I was interested in furthering my knowledge and saw the vacancy at Woburn Forest – I applied online and it was a very straightforward process. I was so happy when I got the job.

“I am enjoying every day – the place is full of positive vibes” – Ross Airson

“I started my job on January 6 and am enjoying every day – the place is full of positive vibes. The majority of people I work with are under 25; we come from similar backgrounds and have similar interests so we get along well. Before Woburn opens Center Parcs will put us on to a training course. It’s a great company and I intend on staying here for a very long time.”

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Amy Dickson

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Amy Dickson

As Brand Content Manager I plan, create and curate the best articles, photos, videos and music for our channels, in particular the blog. With a degree in Journalism under my belt and many years’ experience in the big smoke as a journalist and editor, my focus is firmly on discovering the little gems hidden away in Center Parcs life, before buffing them up to make them sparkle online. From on-village events to the latest travel industry trends, I’ll be there – notepad in hand – to bring you the most entertaining and interesting stories.