FOUR hundred temporary jobs that could lead to permanent work are being created by one of the region’s major employers.

The Student Loans Company (SLC), in Darlington, has launched a recruitment drive to swell numbers at its Lingfield Point offices from 840 to a record 1,240 in July and August.

The move offers a chance for jobseekers to get a foot on the employment ladder.

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SLC has teamed up with employment agency Manpower to fill the vacancies, which are for full and part-time positions, lasting from three months to a year.

Staff who perform well could secure permanent contracts, said Derek Ross, deputy chief executive of SLC, which has its head office in Glasgow.

Since it opened in Darlington four years ago, the company has recruited agency workers over the summer to help process the flood of loan applications it receives in the run up to the new university and college terms.

This year will be the first time the site has employed more than 1,000 staff. The extra hands are needed for an expected 93,000 new applications following rule changes which means that part-time students must now apply for tuition fee loans instead of receiving grants.

An expected leap in applications for further education allowances, which have replaced education maintenance allowance, has also added to the workload.

“It is very pleasing for us to be able to offer further job opportunities for people in and around Darlington,” Mr Ross added. “It is also a real vote of confidence from the Government for us to be handed these extra responsibilities.

“When we opened in 2008, the expectation was that if all went well we would grow to about 750 employees, but this is just way beyond our initial projections.

“We appreciate how tough it can be for people trying to find a way into employment at the moment. These temporary positions offer them a chance to prove themselves, as well as to gain new skills and valuable experience that will bolster their CVs,” he said.

For more information on the temporary jobs, email slrecruitment@manpower.co.uk or call 0191-221-1440.