Youth unemployment in Borders falls by 37%

Job Centre Plus
Job Centre Plus

Unemployment among 18-24 year-olds in the Borders has fallen by 37% over the past year, due to a combination of improved job opportunities and additional help.

New figures show Scotland is enjoying a record high employment level just now and the situation is also reflected in the Borders.

Speaking about the job situation in the region Ken Bramham of Jobcentre Plus, said: “There has been a 31% decrease in people claiming Job Seekers Allowance.

“What is particularly pleasing is in the 18-24 year age group the reduction is 37%.”

“A lot of these people are moving into jobs through support in local job centres and we believe that a major contribution is that we are giving particular support to the 18-24 year old group as part of the Youth Contract, through work experience –short term opportunities with employers – helping them develop a work ethic plus enhancing their CVs.

“We run sector-based work academies and preparation training, work experience placements and guarantee a job interview at the end of it. Every 18-24 year old gets their own individual work coach.”

The main sectors for jobs in the Borders are retail, care sector and tourism and hospitality.

There are a good number of job vacancies are healthy, but Mr Bramham said no-one is complacent.

Although unable to give figures for the number of people working part-time jobs who are looking for full-time work, Mr Bramham admitted: “People want full time work. The rules are that if you are working over 16 hours you are no longer entitled to JSA (Job Seekers Allowance) and in the main people are moving into full time work.

“Some people are doing a couple of part-time jobs.”

Borders wages remain on the low side compared with the Scottish and UK averages. The average gross weekly wage in the region is £490. The Scottish level is £518 and UK £520.

Deputy First Minister and Finance Secretary John Swinney welcomed the Scottish figures released this week.

“These figures are hugely encouraging and demonstrate a robust, more inclusive and active Scottish workforce supporting our economy which in itself is going from strength to strength. We must remain absolutely focused on continuing to deliver those better economic prospects and vigilant about challenges within different sectors of the economy.

“The Scottish Government is committed to working with a range of partners to support all of Scotland’s young people towards and into employment.

“And it’s encouraging to see the youth unemployment level and rate fell to their lowest in five years, whilst the youth employment level increased. While we are approaching the pre-recession level of youth unemployment – a good benchmark – we have ambition to see this go much further.

“I believe the public sector should lead by example and take forward the recruitment and training of young people by engaging with the education system to provide development opportunities for young people.

“Organisations such as Scottish Enterprise who are achieving the status of Investors in Young People set a good example and I hope to see more public sector bodies following their lead.”