Jobless figure in Wakefield worst since ’97

Rory Robinson has been out of work for three years, despite being a skilled computer technician. The job centre won't give him more training and employers are asking for more skilled candidates. Latest figures show there are nearly 10 job seekers chasing every vacancy in Wakefield.
Rory Robinson has been out of work for three years, despite being a skilled computer technician. The job centre won't give him more training and employers are asking for more skilled candidates. Latest figures show there are nearly 10 job seekers chasing every vacancy in Wakefield.

ALMOST 10 people are chasing every vacancy in the district’s job centres after a surge in unemployment.

Figures out this week show the number of people claiming out-of-work benefits in Wakefield reached its highest level in 15 years last month – rising by 695 to 9,640.

Meanwhile, the number of positions being advertised in job centres fell by 500, leaving 9.8 job seekers chasing every position, up from six in December.

Rory Robinson, 32, has been out of work for three years after being made redundant – despite being a skilled computer design technician.

He said: “The employers are looking for very specific skills. People are turning round and saying, ‘If you don’t match the criteria, don’t bother applying’.”

Mr Robinson, of College Grove Road, said job interviews could also be costly as applicants had to pay for travel themselves.

He added: “Being on benefits is a struggle. You might have a job interview in Bradford and it’s £8 on public transport.”

Quarterly figures show the number of people on Job Seekers Allowance in Wakefield is at its highest since 1997, when more than 11,000 people were on the dole.

Nationally, unemployment is at a 17-year high of 8.4 per cent. The overall figure rose by 48,000 in the three months to December to 2.67m.

Mum Monica Southwell, 40, of Denhale Avenue in Flanshaw, who has been looking for a job for more than a year, said she was struggling to find part-time work.

She said: “Sometimes the jobs advertised don’t even exist, and if they do you often don’t get the chance of an interview. I’m fed up sitting at home.”

Trade union body the TUC has said the true scale of unemployment could be double the official figure if the number of people stuck in part-time work was taken into account.

The number of people who are ‘underemployed’ has risen to 1.3m from 802,000 in 1993, the TUC said.

Andy Turner, managing director of Wakefield job agency First Choice Recruitment, said: “There are a lot of people out there without jobs but I still believe there are vacancies if they persevere or are prepared to broaden their horizons.”

But he added: “In parts of the district you have three generations of people out of work and youth unemployment really worries me. It is 60 per cent in some areas, which is absolutely frightening.”