COUNCIL chiefs are encouraging workers affected by three major factory closures in Oldham to seek help at a career and apprenticeship fair which takes place tomorrow (Wednesday, April 18).

The message follows the announcement by online retailer Shop Direct that it will close its centres in Shaw and Chadderton with the loss of almost 1,900 jobs.

Meanwhile, Carpetright has also announced the closure of its store at Elk Mill Retail Park in Royton.

Affected employees are being encouraged to attend Get Oldham Working’s Career and Apprenticeship Fair which is being in partnership with Jobcentre Plus, the National Careers Service, and Ingeus, at Oldham Library and Lifelong Learning Centre, Greaves Street.

Employers attending this event included Barclays, North West Ambulance Services and O2 along with Greater Manchester Police (GMP), Lloyds Bank, Web Applications, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and many more.

The local authority points out that one of the great myths around apprenticeships is that they are exclusive to the younger generation – this is incorrect.

“It doesn’t matter if you are 18 or 40, apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16 and there is no upper age limit,” a spokesman said.

Helen Lockwood, executive director for economy, skills and neighbourhoods, said: “We were disappointed to hear the news of these planned closures and I’m sure this is really difficult for the staff and their families affected.

“Our Get Oldham Working team are ready to offer our help and support to staff, and with our Career and Apprenticeship Fair coming up next week – I’d urge anyone to attend if you think we can offer support.

“These events have proved to be a great success in securing residents with employment in the past and they also open up new avenues of opportunity.”

Anyone cannot attend tomorrow is being advised to contact the GOW team on the first floor of Metropolitan Place, Hobson Street, Oldham, OL1 1TT – across the road from the Job Centre Plus. It operates an ‘open door’ policy.

This means residents of working age can go along – without an appointment – and speak to a careers advisor, weekdays 9am until 4pm.