27 AUGUST 1983, Page 17

Broadcasting for jobs

Sir: Maureen Owen's assertion that the BBC fails `to produce anything of use on the subject of unemployment' and her condemnation of BBC Local Radio on that score (6 August) is totally misplaced and quite ill-informed.

Radio Northampton broadcasts job vacancy information live by land line from Northampton Job Centre at half-hourly intervals betwen 9.30 a.m. and 12.30 p.m. every weekday. Four members of the Job Centre staff have been trained in broadcasting basics and, prior to each broadcast, they collate vacancy information from throughout Northamptonshire, which Is Radio Northampton's editorial area. The impact of these broadcasts is emphasised by the fact that in the first 12 Months after Radio Northampton opened to June 1982, according to the Northants Area Employment Manager, more than 1,500 people were placed in employment as a direct result of the broadcasts.

Moreover, bro,adcasting job information at half-hourly intervals has proved Particularly effective in the filling of urgent vacancies. For instance, an unemployed Wellingborough lorry driver heard of a vacancy as he listened to Radio North- ampton at 9.30 a.m. and started work in the, Job three hours later. The broadcasts also helped a local employer with an urgent short-term contract to recruit more than 370 part-time temporary workers in 48 hours. At the time of writing Radio Northampton's jobs information service is calculated to have now helped 1,618 people back into employment.

Is it coincidental that, on the basis of the number of people placed in work per head of staff employed, Northampton Job Centre is now regarded as the most successful in the Midlands Region? Or that Northamptonshire's job centres are said to be more cost-effective than those in most other counties?

And, of course, despite Miss Owen's obvious unawareness of the true situation, Radio Northampton is by no means the only BBC local station making a significant contribution to the business of linking the unemployed with genuine job vacancies. Michael Marsh

Manager, Radio Northampton, Kington Street, Northampton