THE number of people looking for work in Swindon has more than doubled compared to this time last year - and it could rise even higher.

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions revealed that there are 8,809 people in the town who are unemployed and seeking a job - a 151 per cent rise compared to 2019's stats.

Of these, 1,582 jobseekers are aged 18 to 24 - a rise of 186 per cent from the previous year. Furloughed employees whose wages are being paid by the government not included in the statistics.

Lynne Grimes from the DWP told the Adver: "It's a huge increase and a pretty dire situation. We are expecting these figures to increase because around Christmastime, employers will face a difficult decision to keep on people who are furloughed or make them redundant.

"The number of vacancies is down but some sectors are still recruiting and we are offering support to people.

"There has been an increase in job opportunities in the Swindon area over the last four months, though things are not quite back to how they were in March.

"Young people are worst affected by a recession because they tend to work in sectors that are most likely to make redundancies, like hospitality.

"Flexibility is the order of the day as people are retraining and moving into sectors that are different from their previous jobs."

IT, delivery driving, catering, logistics and warehouse work is being sought at the moment, with companies like Iceland, Amazon, Pets@Home needing roles to be filled.

The new Kickstart scheme hopes to help young people into work by giving employers incentives to provide them with 25 hours of work each week for six months. Dozens of employers have expressed interest in taking on 30 people while several smaller employers want to hire smaller amounts.

A JobHelp website has launched to offer advice to those looking for work about what to do next and what jobs are available, with a searchable list of vacancies.

Mentoring circles for young people have popped up around the county, including a scheme with Wiltshire Police. Sector-based work academies offer short-term courses that teach skills recruiting employers are looking for, like customer service, then end with a job interview.