From baristas to barbers, cooks to cleaners, The GPT Group’s new Wollongong Central shopping centre will provide jobs for more than 800 people.
The Keira Street centre’s 80 new stores will provide a massive employment boost and curb escape spending.
In what’s believed to be a first in Australia, GPT will use one provider, Workible, to run a co-ordinated digital recruitment process linking Wollongong Central retailers with job and training agencies, community organisations such as The Salvation Army and The Smith Family, TAFE Illawarra and nine Illawarra high schools.
Wollongong Central development manager Steve Turner explained the new employment initiative at a presentation in Crown Street Mall on July 31, attended by stakeholders.
Mr Turner said it was a very exciting day.
‘‘We’re probably announcing today one of the single biggest recruitment drives that the Illawarra has seen in recent years as part of the $200million expansion of Wollongong Central,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re bringing 800 new jobs and that’s going to make a significant impact to
employment and employment statistics in the region.’’
Wollongong’s unemployment rate stood at 7per cent, a percentage point higher than the state average.
‘‘These 800 new jobs – if we fill them locally – will bring unemployment back down to the state average.’’
GPT has partnered with Workible and 20 community groups to create the Wollongong Central Workible Shortlist, to make it easier for retailers and jobseekers to find their best match, based on experience, skills and availability.
Mr Turner said many Illawarra workers travelled to Sydney for work and GPT hoped some could work closer to home.
‘‘Wollongong Central is committed to becoming the retail employment destination of choice in the Illawarra.’’
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said the 800 new jobs would add to the city’s social capital.
‘‘Being employed means that you can engage, you feel worthwhile. It changes your perspective,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s making Wollongong a great place to live for all, not just a certain section.’’
Workible director Fiona Anson said they serviced the hospitality and retail sectors, which often needed staff quickly.
‘‘We work with all the GPT centres but Wollongong is the first one to roll out,’’ Ms Anson said.
‘‘We’re aiming to make that connection between jobseekers and retailers easier...we’re hoping that every one of these jobs gets filled by local people.’’
About 1700 people had already downloaded the app and gone onto the shortlist.
Ms Anson said some, such as long-term unemployed, indigenous residents and people with disabilities, found it challenging to get work but they would make sure they ‘‘have as good a chance as anyone’’.
This meant providing valuable feedback to unsuccessful jobseekers.
GPT project retail manager Ben Hughes said retailers didn’t have to do 80 different recruitment processes.
James Keighley, general manager of new centre restaurant Coco Cubano, said it was a lot easier with the shortlist: ‘‘It brings the right candidates to you rather than searching for them independently.’’
Applying for a job at the centre was simple – people can visit www.wollongongcentral.com.au, go to the shortlist, upload their CV and profile, and be matched with retailers according to their skills and experience.
Community partners would spread the word about roles available and help jobseekers apply.