Matt Brill is running an unusual shop. He doesn’t actually sell anything . He wants to give things away – jobs, advice and training.
The 32-year-old careers adviser hopes to act like a broker, bringing together people who are looking for work and businesses that need to take on staff – even if they don’t think they can afford to.
Mr Brill, who was born and bred in Brighton and went to Brighton University after leaving school, is running the old Albion shop in Queen’s Road.
It has newly reopened – opposite the present Albion shop – as the City Skills and Jobs shop.
Quite a few firms could do with taking someone on but are unsure about whether there’s any financial support, he said. Or whether they will have enough work over a long enough period to risk giving an apprenticeship to a youngster.
This is where the City Skills and Jobs shop can help. Mr Brill said that it would be a one-stop shop for employers and would-be employees alike.
One of the aims was to identify the obstacles to creating jobs and to tackle them.
And it’s quite a task. Unemployment has risen, with young people and women being notably affected, and the economy has just slipped back into recession, according to the most recent official figures.
So when the shop opened for business, he attracted an impressive smattering of the local great and good.
Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, opened the premises. Bill Randall, the outgoing leader of Brighton and Hove City Council was present. So was the incoming leader Jason Kitcat and fellow councillor Sue Shanks, who is responsible for children and young people’s services.
Former Brighton and Hove Albion chairman Dick Knight was present as Albion in the Community – the football club’s charity side – is heavily involved. It is linking its Want to Work project with the team at the shop and has 60 businesses signed up.
Albion also provides the premises at a peppercorn rent. Mr Knight said: “We’ve seen the support the new stadium got and it was all about the community helping the club get the stadium.
“This is another collaborative project that’s taken off because of local people pulling together. That’s just the way we are in Brighton.”
And with BrightonandHoveJobs.com involved the shop’s staff are able to reach several big employers quickly and easily.
City College principal Phil Frier, who retires in the summer, said: “City Skills and Jobs involves a whole group of employers from across the city coming together and that’s what will make it a success.”
It also provides somewhere friendly and accessible where it’s possible to ask an expert face to face rather than blindly trying to navigate the internet. Or work out which organisation provides what help.
It’s all under one roof and, Mr Brill said, the aim was to ensure that no one was passed from pillar to post.
Caroline Lucas said: “These are hugely difficult times financially and against a trend of rising unemployment, among young people in particular, this job shop is hugely needed.
“It’s a fantastic collaboration in the city and is a ‘win-win’ situation for both jobseekers and employers.
“I’m reminded of a quote by the Commission on Youth Unemployment that: ‘If the route to university is a well-signposted motorway, the route into work for these 16 to 18-year-olds is more like an unmarked field of landmines.’
“City Skills and Jobs is a much-needed bridge over this ‘unmarked field of landmines’ and I hope is successful for all involved.”