THE 243 staff set to lose their jobs with the Royal Bank of Scotland in Southampton should find their skills in demand from other employers, a job centre official has said.

As the Daily Echo reported yesterday, the bank is set to close its contact centre at Brunswick Place in the city centre by the end of the year.

The Unite union, which represents staff at the centre, has branded the decision by the taxpayer-backed bank “deplorable”.

RBS said it had taken a “difficult decision” to close the centre before the lease expires next May. The business was becoming “simpler, smaller, more customer-focused” and an increasing number of its customers were serving themselves through its digital services, it said.

Jackie Sutherland, employment and partnerships manager for the Department of Work and Pensions, said the prospects for the redundant workers were good.

“The job market is very buoyant. We’ve just had the latest UK employment rate, 76.1 per cent, which is higher than a year earlier when it was 75.6 per cent – that’s the joint highest on record,” she said.

She said the staff should find their skills in demand.

“For people who’ve done contact centre work, there are other contact centres in the area but they’ve also got customer service and communication skills that are sought after by other employers,” she said.

RBS has said it is supporting the staff who will lose their jobs and Ms Sutherland said the DWP could help.

“Companies can come to the DWP when they’re in a redundancy situation to request support. That support would be provided before the employee leaves the company as well as after,” she said.

Staff could take part in workshops covering such subjects as thinking about their transferable skills and how to write a good CV. They could also find out about applying for benefits.

RBS received a £45billion bailout from the taxpayer during the 2008 banking crisis. Its chairman, Sir Howard Davies, has said it is unlikely the taxpayer will ever get all the money back.

Southampton City Council leader Chris Hammond has already pledged that the authority will offer support to those set to lose their jobs.