Young people in Swindon face a tough fight to get work

14 December 2011 Last updated at 06:08

Dave HarveyBy Dave Harvey Business Correspondent, BBC West Dave HayneDave Hayne wants to run a boxing gym, but has been out of work for a year.

“I’ve been out of work for about a year now… I kept going to places handing my CV in, even begging the landlord of pubs, managers of shops, literally going down on my knees.”

But 19-year-old Dave Hayne has had no luck yet.

There are 1,430 people like Mr Hayne in Swindon, out of work and under 24.

That is 8.6% of the town’s young population, which is the average across the UK.

Mr Hayne is desperate to work, his dream is to run his own boxing gym.

He is studying for an NVQ Level Two in gym instructing, having already been through one of the many courses out there to boost his employability.

Jobs ‘just aren’t there’

Swindon College, he told me, had got him “back on his feet”, giving him work skills like first aid, plus social and personal development.

But courses alone won’t get Mr Hayne back to work.

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Swindon College’s project manager, Joanne Oxley, put it like this: “The jobs aren’t there for the people who don’t have the qualifications or experience.

“Even I’d struggle. So get your education while you can, while it’s free, get your maths and your English up and your work experience. It’s not great working for free, but in the long term you will get a job out of it.”

To give a flavour of how competitive the marketplace is here, you just have to go to B&Q’s new distribution depot. They advertised a few hundred jobs and more than 2,000 people applied.

Many of them came through employment agency Mainline.

Stella Weekes, the agency’s boss, said: “The level of people coming through the door is three or four times as much as it used to be.

“We’re also seeing a lot of people coming in who’ve been made redundant more than once.”

Youngsters with limited skills and experience are going up against much more skilled workers, fighting over a dwindling number of jobs.

Ms Weekes said: “Companies are frightened to employ permanently. They’re fighting to survive themselves.”

As we talked, a girl of 16 came in to sign up to the agency. Larissa Ayris had just dropped out of a course at Swindon College and wanted to work.

‘I’m too young’

“I’m confident, but it is tough out there,” she said. “I’ve been to some agencies – but they can’t find me anything as I’m too young.”

Spend time any time with young people in Swindon and despite the confidence and the evident goodwill to get them into work, it’s hard not to think that Larissa is on the path Mr Hayne once trod.

They sign up to agencies and training courses, before signing on to the dole and joining the official statistics.

Behind every number in the impersonal publications there are real lives, people like Larissa and Mr Hayne, fighting for a job.

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