GPT's hunt for 800 Wollongong retail workers

Fiona Anson, from Workible, and Steven Turner, from GPT, with Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery. Workible and GPT have teamed up to fill the jobs at Wollongong Central. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

Fiona Anson, from Workible, and Steven Turner, from GPT, with Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery. Workible and GPT have teamed up to fill the jobs at Wollongong Central. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

The GPT Group is taking a high-tech approach to filling the hundreds of retail jobs in its Wollongong Central expansion.

To help the new businesses find staff, GPT has created an online employment shortlist with digital recruitment company Workible.

GPT Group's development manager Steven Turner said the opening of the shopping centre would create the equivalent of 800 full-time jobs.

"This is one of the single biggest recruitment drives the Illawarra has seen," Mr Turner said.

"We're very proud that we've been able to create such a significant number of job opportunities and to be able to invite the community to apply for these positions."

To fill the positions, GPT and Workible have combined to take a digital approach to job hunting.

Job seekers register with the employment shortlist, which can be found on the Wollongong Central website.

They create a profile, which includes their skills and experiences, and identify which businesses they want to work in.

Then, when an employer is looking to hire, they're given the profiles of job seekers who match the criteria. Those job seekers are then given the chance to apply for that job.

GPT has also enlisted the support of a number of groups, including training agencies and high schools, to get the word out about the recruitment drive.

"We're trying to help out both parties," Mr Turner said.

"We're trying to help out the people looking for a job and help our retailers find those people. It's about streamlining the process, making it easier for the retailers as well, otherwise they run around interviewing the same people time and time again. It can all be very time-consuming when they're trying to open a business."

Workible director Fiona Anson said the process also had advantages for job seekers. It meant they had to submit their CV once only, rather than sending separate copies to each employer.

It would also let unsuccessful applicants know why they missed out.

"The feedback we'd get from our job seekers is 'no-one ever tells me how I went'," Ms Anson said. "So we built the technology so we can compare who did get the job with who didn't. We compare them data-wise to the job seekers who have been successful and give them feedback on what they could do to enhance their chances next time."

With retail having a high turnover of jobs, Ms Anson said the shortlist would be ongoing with employers returning to it to fill vacancies that came up after the centre opened.

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said the news of 800 jobs was adding "social capital" to the city.

"These 800 jobs will increase the financial security for many in our community, stimulate economic activity and is the best weapon in the battle against poverty," Cr Bradbery said.

"I congratulate GPT on their commitment and confidence in our region."

Tenants already setting up shops

An artist's impression of the new shopping centre on the corner of Keira and Crown streets, Wollongong.

An artist's impression of the new shopping centre on the corner of Keira and Crown streets, Wollongong.

The Wollongong Central expansion is still on track to open its doors within two months, with some stores already getting ready for the big opening.

GPT Group development manager Steven Turner said that while they hadn’t set a specific date for the opening, they were still looking to be complete in the last week of September.

‘‘It’s coming along spectacularly well,’’ Mr Turner said.

‘‘We’ve already started handing over the major tenants, so Coles is in there fitting out its supermarket at the moment. JB Hi-Fi are in and some of the restaurants have started fitting out.

‘‘The majority of our businesses don’t arrive and start fitting out until the last four weeks. So you’re still seeing the base building happening now, but it’s going really well.’’

He said the GPT Group hadn’t received any complaints over the closure of Keira Street to allow for widening of the footpaths and road resurfacing.

Mr Turner said he appreciated the patience of businesses and the community and added that being able to see construction take place  had an effect. 

‘‘I think part of it is that we’ve also tried to open up the building to let people see from the street what’s happening, so they can actually see progress.

‘‘The worst thing is when a big hoarding goes up and you don’t actually know what’s happening on the other side of it. So we dropped all of them and let people see what’s going on.’’

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