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Business is booming so where are the jobs?
THE number of 18-year-olds who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) is on the rise.
A report presented to a council committee last night showed that just over 13 per cent of 18-year-olds fall into the NEET category, which is up from 12 per cent in February this year.
The figure for Swindon youngsters is four per cent higher than the national average.
The report also shows that employment among 18 to 24-year-olds has fallen from 24.4 per cent to 21 per cent, but this is still up significantly from 2008.
According to the report, young people in Swindon have been ‘adversely affected’ by the recession and more needs to be done.
Karrol-Anne Green, 18, has just completed a training course with BMW but only after being helped by the Swindon Foyer, which supports young people.
She said: “I really want to get into full-time work and am looking forward to having a job.
“I have looked, and I get pointed out jobs from my family but often there are so many people who are looking it can be quite difficult. “Before getting the help at the Foyer I often didn’t have the confidence to even talk to people.”
Calls are now being made for more of an emphasis on getting 18-year-olds on the path to education or work.
Swindon South MP Robert Buckland said: “I am encouraged by the overall falling figures for young people but there needs to now be a focus on 18-year-olds. We need to look at why this age group are suffering more than most as there is clearly an issue.
“One example might be those who have learning difficulties and have had support throughout the education system suddenly finding themselves without a place to turn at a very difficult period of their lives.
“We need to make sure that we offer enough support to help these people.”
One of the reasons given for the struggle to find jobs amongst the age group is the increase in unstable households. Swindon College offers a number of courses but has noticed a rise in the number of young people who are not ready to start a course.
“NEETs are a transient population which is constantly changing so there are often a number of reasons why people end up in this situation,” said Amanda Burnside, the executive director of Swindon College.
“Since the recession, we are seeing the historic impact as more young people are coming up from troubled backgrounds.
“The result of this is many young people often lack key skills needed in the workplace and are not ready for the rigors of a full-time job or course.”
The college has developed several programmes which they use to enhance and build up NEETs.
“We have our Resolve and Accelerate programmes which we can use to help develop bespoke programmes,” said Amanda. “Putting young people on courses which send them in a direction they may not want to go will not help them in the long term. Our Outreach officers will happily go out to meet people who are in this postion and needing help.”
The Swindon Foyer is a charity, which provides courses and skills to increase the employability of those it helps. This year it has provided occupancy to 146 young people of which only 7 per cent were in employment.
“Often people we see haven’t been taught the basic skills and lack the confidence to spend time in the workplace,” said Amanda Sheppard, a Foyer trainer.
“There is a stigma that they do not want to want to work but this is very rarely the case.
“They often carry this with them and at the Foyer we are proactive in making young people realise they have a value to society.”
Martin Denyer, 24, has been with the Foyer for more than three years and has finished on a similar training course with BMW, who have helped him to get a number of other qualifications.
He said: “Finding work is very difficult. When I go to an employer they often ask for experience which I do not have. I do some volunteer work now with BMW and I’m hoping to get something full time in the new year.”
Also struggling to find work is Dan Allmark, 22. He said: “The Foyer have been great in trying to help me but it is so hard. I am out applying every day but for every job going it seems like there are 1,000 people who go for the same position.”
Stephen Baker, 23, represents a success story for the charity having secured a job in the housing department at the Foyer.
He said: “The Foyer paid for my NVQ and I am now doing something I love. I was unemployed for more than six months and it was quite a dark time.
“Everyone wants to go into education or work but sometimes they need the help which, apart from groups like the Foyer, there is not much of.”
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