MORE than 35 companies are gearing up for the third Reading Job Fair next week.

The Penta Hotel will play host to the Chronicle-sponsored event on Thursday, April 26, when businesses from across Reading and the surrounding area will offer advice and information about work opportunities.

It is being organised by Reading East MP Rob Wilson and will also include a series of skills workshops focusing on key areas of local employment, including HGV driving, warehousing and hospitality.

Mr Wilson said: "The great thing about the Job Fair is that it's flexible, there to be shaped to your needs, whether you want a career change, or simply advice and information, or if you're looking to get back into employment."

Businesses taking part include Tesco, which is looking to fill 1,000 jobs at its soon-to-open distribution centre in south Reading.

Other companies to have signed up include Microsoft, Sovereign Housing, Thames Water, Southern Electric, Broad Street Mall, John Lewis, Bookable Holidays, McDonalds, Chartwells and Thames Valley Police.

The latest to add its name is Volker Fitzpatrick, which is constructing a �36.2m rail depot alongside sidings at Cow Lane, west Reading. The company, which boasts an annual turnover of �400m, operates in the civil engineering, building, rail, waste and energy infrastructure sectors, and has a range of jobs up for grabs.

Workplace co-ordinator Calvin Howe said the company is keen to employ people living locally on its construction sites, adding: "At VolkerFitzpatrick we have a strong commitment to encouraging people back into the workplace and to also support them once they've joined us.

"We are very much looking forward to taking part in Reading's upcoming Job Fair as it will provide us with a great opportunity to meet local residents regarding our current vacancies."

For more on the Job Fair, see the free pull out guide in tomorrow's Midweek.