Young unemployed down by 2,800 in North West

Anthony Catteral, 21, at work at Quality Save, Chorley
Anthony Catteral, 21, at work at Quality Save, Chorley
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Young unemployed people in Lancashire are getting back into work at a quicker rate than anywhere else in the country.

Under-24s in Lancashire who have been claiming benefits for more than 12 months are among 2,800 across the region to have found permanent work in the past year – the largest reduction of any region.

The number of young people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for more than a year in the North West fell from 9,745 in December 2012 to 6,950 in December 2013, with the numbers in Lancashire falling from 975 to 790.

Anthony Catterall, 21, from Chorley, who hadn’t worked since leaving school in 2011, was one of the young people to find work.

He landed his first job in January following help from his Jobcentre Plus work coach after finding a lack of work experience was the main barrier preventing him from getting work.

He started off on an eight-week placement at Quality Save in Chorley and after impressing bosses at the shop he was offered a permanent job as shop assistant.

He said: “I’d applied for lots of jobs before, but wasn’t getting anywhere because of a lack of work experience.

“I’m really happy I’ve now got a job and grateful to my work coach at the Jobcentre and Quality Save for giving me this opportunity.”

The former Albany Science College student added: “There’s not enough out there, some people have either not got enough qualifications or they are over qualified.”

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of commerce described the drop as “encouraging” but said the jobless rate among young people was still “far too high.” She said: “The chamber is proposing concrete measures to promote business investment in young people aged 16-24.

“Our submission to the treasury calls on the Chancellor to enhance tax incentives for those investing in companies run by young entrepreneurs, who often say they can’t get growth funding from banks or other sources.

“We are urging the Chancellor to play his part in making 16- to 24-year-olds more attractive to businesses, who in return can help Britain avoid a lost generation.”

Meanwhile PHX Training, based in Preston, is urging companies to take on more apprentices after figures from the National Apprenticeship Service revealed applications are increasing by a third, year on year.

Dan Scott, managing director of PHX Training, said: “Apprenticeships have experienced a real resurgence in recent years, and employers working with apprentices are experiencing first-hand how this can grow talent, improve efficiencies and add skills to the workforce.

“However, there are still lots of employers who aren’t aware that they can access funding and they are missing out on the benefits as a result.”

Steve Gray, chief executive of Training 2000, which has a base in Preston, said: “As the UK continues to pull itself out of recession, we are seeing some positive signs in terms of employment. Rising university fees mean that young people are becoming increasingly aware of the alternative options available to them and they have a much better understanding that there may be more than just one direct route into their chosen career.”

DWP Minister, Esther McVey, said: “Creating jobs and getting people into employment are central to our economic plan to build a stronger, more competitive economy, so it is welcome news that the number of young people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for over 12 months has improved over the last year.”