YOUTH unemployment figures in the Express area are the highest in the district.
Shocking statistics from Wakefield Council have revealed that a massive 41.9 per cent of all Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants in Hemsworth - based on the 2003 ward boundaries - are aged under 24. In South Kirkby, that figure is 39.2 per cent of all claimants and in South Elmsall it is 38.2 per cent. The three figures are all well above the district average of 34 per cent and the national average of 30.1 per cent.
Hemsworth Arts and Community College student Brogan Corcoran, 18, is worried about what her future holds.
Brogan, of Holgate Crescent, Hemsworth, said: “I don’t want to go to university - it is not for me. I have always wanted to be a police officer but they are not taking on at the moment.
“My dad is a firefighter and I considered joining him but the fire service isn’t recruiting and they are closing down our two local stations. I am staying on at college to do further AS levels and I want to do Camp America before I get a full-time career but I can’t even find a part time job to save up - there is too much competition. I only know a few students who have jobs because it is just so difficult to find one.
“Everywhere wants experience but we can’t get that without being given a job. My friends who are going to university are worried they won’t get the grades and that there will be no jobs for them as an alternative. And even if they get into university they are scared about what will happen when they leave.”
The statistics - which are for December 2011, the latest figures available - also show that overall unemployment has risen by 8.9 per cent in Hemsworth, 5.6 per cent in South Elmsall and 1.6 per cent in South Kirkby since December 2010. Unemployment rose 10 per cent across the Wakefield district.
Long term unemployment - people who have been claiming for longer than 12 months - stands at 15 per cent of all claimants in South Kirkby, 14.8 per cent in South Elmsall and 13.9 per cent in Hemsworth. The district average is 16.7 per cent.
In the Hemsworth ward, there were 13.3 people claiming JSA for every job advertised at the Jobcentre during December 2011, way above the national average of 5.6 people.
Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett said: “These figures are shocking but not surprising. We are back to where we were in 1996 when I was first elected - record levels of youth unemployment.
“In 1997 Labour’s New Deal got young people back into work. The banking crisis in 2008 meant young people again where vulnerable to high levels of unemployment. The Labour government created the Future Jobs Fund as part of the Young Person’s Guarantee, where 18-24-year-olds reaching the six-month point of their Jobseeker’s Allowance claim were guaranteed an offer of a job, training or work experience.
“As soon as the current government took office they cancelled the Future Jobs Fund and the young people of this area are sadly bearing the brunt of this heartless decision.”
A Wakefield Council spokeswoman said a number of initiatives had been put in place to tackle youth unemployment, including addressing the issue through the Wakefield Enterprise Partnership’s (WEP) draft economic growth plan for the district over the next five years.
A number of work clubs have been set up by the council and JobCentre Plus and the WEP has been supporting a campaign encouraging businesses to offer more apprenticeships as well as working with local schools to prepare young people for future employment.
The SESKU Academy, South Kirkby, is also launching a job club. See next week’s Express for more details.