A portrait of desperate Britain: 4,000 job seekers queue for chance of employment at new shopping centre
Queues formed two hours before the jobs fair opened its doorsJob seekers had to park a mile away because so many people were therePositions were sought at new 84million shopping centre with 56 shops
The Whiteley Shopping Centre, Hampshire, is set to open in May and will have 56 shops, creating more than 1,000 jobs.
Carol Bramley, from West End, was the first in the queue at 8am on Wednesday as she looked to find a job for the first time since January.
She said: ‘Everything you read and hear these days says that there are hundreds of applicants for every job going.
‘So I thought that with the fair opening at 10am, I'd best get here early so that if I had to queue, it would be at the start of the day.’
Top high street names including Clintons, Dean's Diner, Fat Face, Holland and Barrett and JD Sports were waiting to hand out advice.
There were also representatives from Next, Starbucks, The Body Shop, The Entertainer, Topshop and Xpress Beauty.
The queues stretched on outside the jobs fair where crowds gathered two hours before it opened
The biggest employer was the restaurant chain Harvester, which is looking to employ 45 staff.
Marks & Spencer, Sports Direct and children's store Mamas & Papas are among others to have put pen to paper.
The new complex will replace its predecessor, which opened as the region's first outlet centre in 1999.
But the centre was not a success and was eventually torn down in 2011.
Whiteley Shopping Centre in Hampshire will open on May 23and more than 1,000 jobs will be created (artist's impression)
Marks & Spencers, River Island and Timberland will be among the 56 new shops to open in Whiteley, Hampshire (artist's impression)
The gleaming new version will feature
double and triple height glazing and oak panels, centred on a new town
square with landscaped spaces.
It will also provide over 1,500 car parking spaces with up to three hours' free parking, and free parking after 6pm.
Whiteley Shopping Centre Manager Neil Carter was delighted with the turn-out at the jobs fair
Whiteley Shopping Centre Manager Neil Carter was delighted with the turn-out.
He said: ‘It's been brilliant, we have had a great response from the people of Whiteley and to the recruitment fair.
‘We have had more than 2,000 people pre-register and we think we will have seen around 4,000 people by the end of the day.’
Ethan Edwards, 19, from Southsea, Hampshire, has been out of work for six months. He said: ‘There's a lot of opportunities here. It's a good opportunity to talk to employers face to face.’
Katie Kelly, from Gosport, Hampshire, was being kept company in the queue by her mother, Julie.
Miss Kelly, 22, said: ‘We had to park about a mile away and walk.’
Her 41-year-old mother added: ‘I didn't think it would be this busy, it's like the X-Factor!’
Unemployment in the UK unexpectedly rose for the first time in one year it was revealed prior to the Budget last week.
The number of people out of work rose by 7,000 to 2.52million in the three months leading up to January, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The figures showed the increase was due to a rise in unemployment among 18-24 year olds, which was at its highest in 17 months.
The last time overall unemployment had increased before the most recent rise was in the three months to January 2012.
This graph shows the rate of unemployment in the UK over the last five years