AN academy set up to prepare unemployed Bradfordians for work at The Broadway has helped nearly 350 people land jobs.

The SkillsHouse retail academy started last June to give jobseekers the training and support they needed to land top jobs at the £260 million shopping centre, as well as other shops looking to recruit across the district.

As part of the scheme, three local colleges have been providing jobseekers with two-week courses in retail, hospitality and customer service.

Students have also been trained in customer service through the World Host programme, which was used to train the popular volunteers at the London 2012 Olympics.

So far, SkillsHouse has helped 342 people into work, 166 of whom have found jobs in The Broadway.

And some of the shop and restaurant workers have already landed promotions in their jobs.

Ashley Mavin, who went through the SkillsHouse training and now works at Marks & Spencer, said: "I had been unemployed for at least seven months and I decided to go to the SkillsHouse.

"I never thought that I would have got the qualifications that I now have.

"I am enjoying my work and the SkillsHouse are a major help in terms of motivating you, it's essential to have the right attitude."

Another SkillsHouse client, Umar Ali, who now works at New Look, said: "I saw a post on Facebook about recruitment, so I called the SkillsHouse. They had me on their books within 12 hours. The support was exactly what I needed.

"SkillsHouse brought me right into the 21st century, and I got my World Host customer service status which increased my confidence."

To date, a further 432 unemployed people have completed pre-employment training through the academy, gaining a qualification in either retail or hospitality.

SkillsHouse, which forms part of Bradford Council's Get Bradford Working programme, now aims to help a further 400 people through its training in 2016 and for at least 70 per cent of these to get a job.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, portfolio holder for education, skills and culture, said: "It's great to see that SkillsHouse, which only launched last summer, is having such a positive impact and helping to fill that skills gap which can make such a difference for those people looking for work."

To find out more about SkillsHouse, phone 01274 432605.