The scale of the employment crisis in one Aberdeen community has been laid bare after a shop assistant vacancy at a bakery attracted more than 300 applicants.
Gary McAllister, owner and head baker of The Bread Guy in Torry, said the situation is reflective of the “difficult situation” that has left many “grasping at straws” in the north-east jobs market.
The applications, which took Mr McAllister and has staff three weeks to get through, came from applicants between 16 and 65 years of age.
He said: “The applications came for all over Aberdeen, it wasn’t just Torry.
“I think it is due to the current economy and the way things are right now with people being furloughed left, right and centre.
“They just don’t know whether they are going to have a job.
“People are grasping at straws to find anything they can – it’s going to be difficult out there for a long time.”
Mr McAllister said keeping his business trading throughout the pandemic has been “an absolute challenge”, but added that new ideas such as sending Aberdeen butteries by post has really boosted sales.
He also believes an increased popularity in home baking during lockdown has accounted for the increased number of job applications.
He added: “We whittled it down to about 20 applicants and quite a few asked whether they would be able to come in the back and help with the baking – there’s definitely an interest in working beyond the shop.
“I fell in love with it, so I guess it must be the same for a lot of people.
“People are starting to see that homemade bread tastes a lot better than what you’ll get in the supermarket.”
Lisa Duthie, who operates the Community Food Initiative North East (CFine), said her organisation has witnessed a “phenomenal” number of applications for new job positions.
The food bank boss said she had also chosen to offer up some of her time to provide advice and help to those currently seeking work.
Ms Duthie said: “We’ve seen applications in the hundreds for a handful of jobs here and you can see a lot of people are looking to try and have a go.
“I think people are just desperate and it’s understandable with what we’re seeing in the market right now.”
Torry councillor Audrey Nicol said the number of applications received by The Bread Guy “really reflects” how badly Aberdeen has been hit by “the perfect storm” of Covid-19 and oil and gas job losses.
She said: “I’m the daughter of a local shopkeeper and I know the value that an independent business brings to the area.
“I’m sure that while it’s great that The Bread Guy had such an amazing response to his job advert, I think nonetheless the reality is that it shows the challenges that the city is facing from the pandemic, the local oil and gas downturn and Brexit.
“We’re going to really feel the impact of all these things for quite some time to come.”