9:00am Thursday 23rd February 2012
By Emily Roberts
YOUTH unemployment is a major issue in the Basingstoke area – so it was no surprise that scores of young jobseekers flocked to a careers fair in search of employment and advice.
Organised by Jobcentre Plus and charity Shaw Trust, the event attracted dozens of unemployed 18 to 24-year-olds.
Friends Sarah-Mae Easton and Melissa Giddens both worked at the Christmas Grotto, in Festival Place, during December, but have been out of work since then.
Sarah-Mae, 21, from Victory Hill, Basingstoke, said: “I want to be a nanny and I have applied to agencies but my age is making it hard because apparently I’m quite young to be a nanny.
“It’s very tough. It makes life boring having no money. I have child care qualifications I want to use, but I might have to consider doing something else.”
Melissa, 20, from Old Basing, added: “I was at BCoT until July and I want to become a firefighter, but I understand I can’t do that straight away. The course I did was uniform public service but because of all the cuts, it’s hard to find a job.
“I’m struggling. I’ll keep applying. I’m looking at anything at the moment. I’m happy to be knee deep in sewage, I’m not picky. But no one gets back to me. It’s demoralising the longer it goes on and demotivating.
“I’m embarrassed about it because we get tarnished with the same brush as people who don’t want to work.”
Aaron-Lloyd Haigh, 24, found himself unemployed after splitting from the mother of his son who lives in Devon. He is now staying at the YMCA, and said: “I’ve been unemployed for about six months. I haven’t found it easy to get a job, but I didn’t realise there was so much help out there until today.
“I didn’t sign on for ages because I thought I would be able to get a job. Being out of work doesn’t help your morale, especially living so close to town and seeing everyone going to work.”
Lee Willsher, 21, from Marnel Park, Basingstoke, said his troublesome teenage years were preventing him from finding work.
The father-of-one said: “I haven’t worked since April last year and with the recession there are no job opportunities. It’s boring. I want to work but people with criminal backgrounds get judged.”
But for Sean Dickins, the careers fair brought good news when he was offered an interview for a job at Marks & Spencer’s new Simply Food store, in Chineham.
The 18-year-old worked at the Festival Place branch during the Christmas period, and said: “I spoke to my advisor and said I was going to phone them tomorrow and she said ‘do it now.’ “I have applied for nearly 20 jobs in the last few months but most of the time, employers don’t get back to you. It’s demoralising when they don’t tell you if you got it or not. It’s been horrible.”
Various training providers were on hand to talk to the young people about opportunities, including Queen Mary’s College, Basingstoke College of Technology, NHS Foundation Trust and North Hampshire Wildlife Young Volunteer Project.
Sarah Crewe-Read, a manager at Jobcentre Plus, said: “There are jobs out there and lots of opportunities through apprenticeships and training. But it is tough because of the competition.
“We are still getting people into work, and last month we got more people into work than were coming in. The key is to help them early. Many come out of school with unrealistic aims.
“Some of them know what they want to do but others haven’t got a clue, and events like this are about letting them know what the options are and what’s available.”
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