Page last updated at 20:26 GMT, Tuesday, 16 June 2009 21:26 UK

Hundreds compete in jobs fight

Emma Simpson
Business correspondent, BBC News


Hundreds have applied for jobs at the discount retailer in Boston

They started queuing by 9am and within the hour the line of people looking for work had stretched around the block.

These were the early birds trying to land a job with a new employer in town. By lunchtime, hundreds of people had arrived to grab an application form.

QD Stores, the discount retailer, has been holding an open recruitment day in Boston, Lincolnshire. Whilst many other retailers are struggling in the downturn, this company is expanding.

Here in Boston, it has taken over the former Woolworths store in the centre of the town. QD Stores plans to be open for business in July and it needs 25 staff.

That is a lot of vacancies all at once for this market town.

Among the would be recruits are half a dozen or so ex-Woolies workers still looking for a new job.

"I'm desperate to get back into work," says Pat Berry.

"The first month off was fine, but after that, you're just itching to get back to work amongst people," she adds.

'Extremely tough'

Brian Saunby was the stockman for Boston's Woolies. Aged fifty-five, he has not worked since and has struggled to find a new job.

He is hoping for a breakthrough: "I reckon my chances are fifty fifty. It depends if they're after somebody young or somebody who knows what they're doing."

"It would mean a lot to me to get back into work. I'm finding it impossible to live on sixty pounds a week. I'm eating into savings," he adds.

There are people here from all walks of life, including a tractor driver, a graphics artist, an IT consultant and a mechanics graduate.

They have all sought application forms to try their hand at something new, anything to get back into work.

Kevin Edwards used to be a service manager for Audi, in Boston.

He summarised the mood: "You go for what you think you might get.

"It's been extremely tough. Any application you send off you rarely get a reply, anything that becomes available you go for it," he says.

Intense competition

There are decent positions out there but the competition to get them is intense.

Martin Jackson used to be a storeman for Argos. He is after the one warehouse job on offer.

It is the post that most of the men here are after. The story played out here in Boston is simply the fight for a job.

"I miss going to work. I'm existing at the moment, for someone my age it doesn't seem right," he says.

Nick Waterman, in charge of the recruitment drive, said it was a sign of the times.

"The queue speaks for itself. This is the fourth store we're recruiting for and, on average, we're getting a thousand applicants per store. A couple of years ago we'd have struggled to fill one or two vacancies, let alone 25," she says.

It is a different story now. And for every job winner here this week, there will be many more losers.

But at least every applicant will be interviewed. For some, that is a start.

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