Blackpool’s desperate job situation was laid bare today as the town was named one of the worst places in the UK for young people trying to find work.
A new report says more than one in five 16 to 24-year-olds in the resort are unemployed.
Young people said they were not surprised by the shocking figures - blaming the town’s reliance on seasonal jobs for the crisis.
Some said they felt their only option was to leave Blackpool to get a foot on the career ladder.
Paul Whitfield-Bannister, 22, of Lancaster Road, Marton, said: “I went to Blackpool and The Fylde College to train to be a chef, but I have been looking for work for the past year.
“I don’t think people realise just how difficult it is because there is just nothing in Blackpool.
“A lot of the hotels have gone out of business, so there are less jobs in catering.
“I have sent off lots of CVs but just haven’t been able to find anything, but I am really committed to working either full or part-time if I can find something.”
Paul was among scores of job-seekers at South Shore Job Centre hoping to find work.
Samantha Coates, 23, of Tyldesley Road, South Shore, said: “I’m a qualified youth worker but there just aren’t any opportunities in Blackpool, so now I am thinking of moving to a bigger city such as Leeds to see if I can find anything there.
“There is just seasonal work here and when the season ends you are back to where you began.
“I’ve been looking for a job for about six months. I’ve gone round to lots of places asking if they have got work and they say they will get back to you, but they don’t.”
Peter Fowler, 22, of Grange Park, who is married with two children, said he was concerned about providing for his family.
He said: “I was working at Blackpool Tower but they let me go about a week ago.
“Now I’m worried about finding something else because I’ve got responsibilities. Even if I find something else quite quickly, there are no guarantees how long that job will last.
“You can get three or four months of work and then you have to start looking again.”
Stephen Waldon, 24, of Albert Road, Blackpool, said: “I’m looking for warehouse work but would give anything a go because I just want to make an honest living.
“I want a nice house and nice things but there are no opportunities, and it just feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.”
The report, The Geography of Youth Unemployment - A Route Map For Change, has been compiled by The Work Foundation which is part of Lancaster University.
Researchers using data from the Office for National Statistics’ Annual Population Survey for 2012 to 2013 identified a number of youth unemployment blackspots and warn the Government needs to develop clearer routes to work or further training for young people.
The figures show Blackpool has above average youth unemployment of between 21 per cent and 25 per cent.
Lizzie Crowley, head of youth unemployment programmes at The Work Foundation, said: “The UK’s youth unemployment crisis continues to affect almost a million young people – even in the recovery.
“It is shocking that in some cities almost a third of young people are looking for work but are unable to find it.
“Urgent action is needed to ensure young people get the right support to either continue in school, further training or with getting a job.
“Central Government’s top-down attempts to tackle the crisis have failed.
“Local government must now be tasked with setting up Youth Transition Partnerships to bring together schools, colleges, third sector organisations, and local businesses to develop tailored policy responses suitable for each city. National government must also back these partnerships by providing dedicated funding to ensure they can fulfil this duty effectively.”
The Official response
The report says even the cities in the UK with the lowest rates of youth unemployment, at around 13 per cent, are still a third higher than the German national average of 8.6 per cent.
The paper, supported by Barclays, Impetus – The Private Equity Foundation, and Trust for London, recommends towns and cities could reduce their rates by ensuring local services work together more effectively.
Dedicated funding should be set aside by the Government to develop strategic plans to tackle youth unemployment and develop clear routes to work or further training otherwise a generation of young people “will face a bleak future.”
Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said he was not surprised by the report’s findings.
He said: “What is also worrying is the number of young people over the last 18 months who have gone into being in long term unemployment, defined as a year or longer, in my constituency has gone up 12-fold.
“The reason we score highly is that Blackpool in terms of public sector jobs has been hit hard by all the government changes, and we have not had a sufficient number of private sector jobs created.
“Also the nature of private sector jobs in Blackpool has not changed a great deal.
“Young people are also under-worked. Whereas once they may have had a couple of part-time jobs, now they have just one, while others are on reduced hours.
“I think the suggestion by the researchers that this needs to be sorted out locally is valid.
“We need local solutions backed by Whitehall funding, particularly in a town like Blackpool which has its own particular set of circumstances.”
James Sorah, of Blackpool Against the Cuts, said youth unemployment was a “major blight” on the town.
He said: “It is particularly damaging for young people to have long periods of unemployment at a time when they are new to the jobs market.
“It is a bad start in life to be out of work. We have a lot of young people with no future and no hope. “Even if you have a university degree, where are the jobs in Blackpool?
“The Government needs to stop cutting back the public sector and to invest more in towns like Blackpool whose main industry is tourism, but tourism is failing.”
But Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard said he believed the Government’s actions were turning things around, and claimed this was borne out by figures showing a drop in numbers of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA).
He said: “We should be clear that Blackpool North and Cleveleys has below average levels of youth unemployment.
“I am pleased to see that Blackpool North and Cleveleys has seen a staggering reduction of some 40 per cent in youth unemployment over the past year with a reduction in the number of claimants of JSA falling from 710 in February 2013 to 510 in February 2014.
“Of course, we must not stop addressing the skills and infrastructure deficits holding us back, but we also need to get away from the constant negativity and gloom that pervades discussion of Blackpool’s economy.
“Good things are occurring, but we need much, much more of it.
The Work Foundation’s report did not cover Fylde and Wyre local authority areas.