A THOUSAND Mansfield young people are now out of work and claiming benefits as the area feels the full impact of a shrinking employment market.
The figure is close to being a 13-year-high and is 3.5 per cent above the East Midlands regional overall percentage.
Released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the 1,000 equates to 11.5 per cent of local 18 to 24-year-olds being on jobseeker’s allowance.
Government officials released the figures this week alongside national statistics showing the country’s employment climate is in its worst state for 17 years.
Across all age groups in Mansfield the total number of people claiming jobseeker’s is at 2,812 or 4.4 per cent, up from 3.6 per cent a year ago.
But in line with national trends, the figures suggest younger people are by far the group currently finding times toughest, with the job seeker’s claimant level among 25 to 49-year-olds at 4.4 per cent and at just 1.8 per cent for the over-fifties.
Irvin Robinson, chairman of business development and networking group Mansfield 2020 said: “You’ve got people coming out of school and the apprenticeships have not been there, although more are appearing now. But we’ve also got graduates that are not getting jobs and who end up coming home and swelling the numbers. It’s a snowball effect.
“We’ve got to recognise it’s a problem but there are lots of groups out there, including ourselves, working to bridge that gap.”
Kate Allsop, Mansfield District Council’s portfolio holder for regeneration, said there was an argument for central Government to step in and help areas like Mansfield, where jobless figures tend to be higher than national averages.
“As a council we do everything we can to attract and keep businesses in the area to create jobs,” she said.
“But it is worrying that there are 1,000 young people out there having to claim.
“The Government should prioritise areas like ours, although they have come in and taken on a massive deficit.
“But just throwing money at it would not be the answer, there needs to be a mindset of people getting up, dusting themselves off and finding a way back into the community.”
Mansfield jobseeker Damon Humes (21), of Chesterfield Road, has been looking for work for nine months after a previous temporary role came to an end. Before that job, he’d been looking for 15 months.
“The Government just needs to create more jobs,” he said.
“The private sector is either unwilling or can’t create them so they need to step in.
“The problem is for people who are unskilled. It’s harder for them, they’ve got no chance at the moment.”
The local youth jobless figure was actually higher in February last year at 11.9 per cent, before dropping to 8.6 per cent by November 2010. Since then it has been rising rapidly.
Before last year the level had not reached 11 per cent since March 1998.
As the figures only include those claiming benefits, the real total of those looking for work is likely to be higher.
Mansfield’s newly-elected youth mayor Daniel Winfield (17), pointed to efforts being made by the Mansfield Learning Partnership to develop job skills among young people.
“Leaving school and entering the jobs market should not be seen as a hindrance,” said the Manor School pupil. “It should be seen as a positive because it gives employers the chance to train young people.
“But I think the Government needs to realise companies need help to develop jobs.”
West Notts College runs a number of schemes aimed at improving students’ employability and placed more than 700 young people in jobs last year through its apprenticeship programme.
Earlier this year it ran the ‘Summer Job Shop’; a pre-apprenticeship programme in partnership with Mansfield District Council and its recruitment service, Vision Apprentices.
It provided 60 school-leavers with career and employability workshops, together with ‘try a trade’ sessions, with the aim of getting a third of them into paid apprenticeships.
Said deputy principal Andrew Martin: “In today’s challenging employment climate, it’s important people leave school, college or university ready for the world of work.
“We’re addressing this by helping students develop the right attitudes as well as skills to make them ‘work-ready’.”