Live Wire - October 4, 2013

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By Jacqui Morley

Worklessness is not worthlessness says Robbie James, 21, who’s been out of work for three years.

He moved to Blackpool earlier this year in a bid to find work in tourism and, apart from two bar jobs, has failed to find anything long term.

“I worked five weeks at one nightspot to cover for a lad who had gone off – and then got laid off after two weeks at another because they said the trade just wasn’t there. I was also only glass collecting there.”

Robbie, who left school with enough qualifications to clinch a university placement, says he opted out of further education because he “couldn’t see the point, not in this economy.” He says the writing was on the wall when he was 16.

“I worked my dad’s milk round for three years but when he packed in because the doorstep deliveries had gone I went on a course to pick up some hospitality and leisure industry skills and worked as a waiter at a hotel chain in the Peak District at weekends. All my wages were spent on my petrol money there and back. I can’t afford a car now.”

He’s one of the 1.1 million young people not in education, training or employment. Thousands live locally. More head here each season –as Robbie did from Sheffield – in the hope of finding work.

It’s seen as a lost generation by some but not all. Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden, who has taken on a young apprentice at his own constituency office, is hosting a jobs fair at Blackpool Football Club next Friday from 10.30am to 2.30pm. It’s part of his Blackpool Works campaign – and he aims to bring real help, rather than just hope, to those attending.

Outside the JobCentre at South Shore a 23-year-old former civil servant who does not wish to be named said: “I don’t like this tag NEET (Not in Education, Employment, Training). I have qualifications, I’ve trained, I’ve worked, I’m no scrounger. But the jobs aren’t there. I was almost screaming at the TV when David Cameron was talking of cutting benefits and ‘nagging and pushing’ people into work. The jobs are NOT there, Mr Cameron.”

The Government is 
reviewing benefits policies for 16 to 25 year olds.