Youth unemployment plummets by a third


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UNEMPLOYMENT in both Weston and North Somerset fell by more than a third in 2014, according to new Government figures.

The encouraging statistics show Weston recorded a 37 per cent drop in the number of people out of work during the year, while the figure for North Somerset as a whole saw an even bigger drop, with a 39 per cent fall.

Those aged 18-24 were the biggest beneficiaries, with both Weston and North Somerset seeing 43 per cent reduction in what the Government classes ‘youth’ unemployment.

Nikki Lewis, from Job Centre Plus, said the fall was due to a combination of factors but hailed the effect of initiatives run by groups including Weston College to give young people improved employability skills.

She told the Mercury: “It’s a combination of things happening which has led to these promising figures coming out.

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“There has been some great news through the increase in local enterprise and business start ups. Businesses are feeling a bit more confident to take on staff, and that gives people the security of a regular wage which not everyone has had in recent years.

“Further south we’ve got the big builds to come, hopefully, at Hinkley Point and along the M5, and if these can continue there should be more and more opportunity for people in this area to benefit down the line.

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“For young people, education providers have been very active, particularly Weston College, offering a wide range of courses and HYPE West which helps to get people aged 18-24 work ready.

“It’s good to see there’s a lot of focus on young people locally and it is giving them the best possible chances with employers.

“Private employment is up on the whole locally, it always depends on those small businesses start ups to assist in that and it’s just about that kind of confidence in the area.”

Local figures show people starting their own business have enjoyed a particularly prosperous year, with North Somerset Enterprise Agency helping a record number of people with entrepreneurial endeavours during 2014.

Angela Hicks, the agency’s chief executive, said: “As an agency, we are now beginning to see a lot more start-ups come through and in 2014, we helped 172 businesses which was a record for us.

“It’s the kind of figure we haven’t seen since the 1980s when there were a raft of redundancies in the area. There’s certainly a new confidence locally and The Hive is starting to fill up.

“All the regeneration around Weston has been going on for some time now to get us in this kind of position - it’s finally starting to bear fruit and have a real impact.

“After all that work, we’re now definitely feeling the impact in a positive way.”

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