Figures obtained from the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) have revealed that three out of the four boroughs covered by ELL feature in the top ten areas of youth unemployment in Britain.
Lewisham is the worst in the country with nearly 36% of all young people aged between 16 and 24 out of work. The situation is also bleak in Hackney and Croydon, both with levels of over 33% jobless.
At the same time, the services designed to help people find employment are under threat. The former ‘Jobcentre Plus’ in Deptford High Street was closed last year and the facility has not been replaced. Jobseekers have to travel three miles to reach their nearest alternative.
When asked about job prospects, young passers-by just shrugged their shoulders and said: “There’s no chance for us here. We’re what they call the ‘Lost Generation.’”
Speaking to ELL, Joan Ruddock, Labour MP for Lewisham, said: “Youth unemployment is a matter of huge concern. I’m in discussions all the time how to help young people when there’s a lack of specialised help. I fought the closure of the Jobcentre and raised the matter with the Prime Minister. He promised that he would look at the distribution of job centres across the country. It is shocking to do this to an area of such deprivation.”
Last week Employment Minister, Chris Grayling, stated: “This Government is making changes that will give young people access to jobs and opportunities that can help them towards a brighter future.”
In Croydon , the ‘Jobcentre Plus’ in Dingwall Road is extremely busy, with over 500 people seeking job opportunities every day. A Jobcentre manager, who also wished to remain anonymous, said: “There are many problems here, particularly for young people. But it’s also a question of mindset: the youngsters are often less flexible than older clients. Many are simply not interested in taking some of the jobs available.”
One 16-year old girl from Sydenham, Katie Cross, said: “I’m hopeful that I’ll get a job soon. I want a job in beauty and I think I’ll make it. But things are tough.”
Jay Butt, a 29-year old youth worker from Croydon seeking full-time work himself, stressed: “ It’s proving hard to find a job even for people like me with a degree. There’s a lack of opportunities and there aren’t enough places like this Jobcentre around to help people on the dole.”
Figures obtained from Department of Works and Pensions:
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