Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight unemployment 'horrendous'

Isle of Wight Festival
Image caption Many jobs on the island are seasonal, such as those at the Isle of Wight Festival

The problem of youth unemployment on the Isle of Wight is "absolutely horrendous", according to a youth charity manager.

Heath Monaghan, of the Foyer in Ryde, said the lack of jobs on the island was "huge" and "right across the board".

His comments come as new research for the BBC by Experian found that the number of businesses on the island had fallen by an average of 2% a year between July 2010 and February 2012.

The research found that, although the number of business start-ups increased in almost every part of England, the Isle of Wight, Southampton and Portsmouth all saw their overall number of businesses fall.

Office for National Statistics figures show that 12.7% of 18 to 24-year-olds on the island were claiming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) in February.

Seasonal jobs

The island also has more unemployed residents of all ages compared with its mainland neighbours, with 4.9% of working age people claiming JSA in February, compared with 2% in the New Forest and Fareham, 3.6% in Southampton and 3.8% in Portsmouth.

Mr Monaghan said: "You are finding young people who are leaving universities with very good degrees that simply just can't get any kind of post, not even the post that they've trained for.

"There are young people that we see week in, week out. They are going to interviews, they are getting to that stage, but because of the levels of people applying for each job, they keep on getting a knock-back each and every time."

Mr Monaghan said the high number of seasonal jobs on the island meant many people were left without work for much of the year.

Perry Jones, 17, from Cowes, left school last year and is still looking for work.

He said: "Trying to find work is impossible because if you've got no experience in what they want, they'll go for more experienced people.

"I lost count of how many I tried. I've tried all sorts, grass cutting, labouring and all sorts and you don't even get emails back.

"Some of my friends have got fathers who've got their own businesses so they work with them but my dad hasn't got his own business so I can't do that.

Image caption Perry Jones offered to work for nothing to gain experience but was turned down

"Everything's a struggle. I'm trying to save up all my money from JSA each week to try and get back to college because I'm nearly 18 and I don't get free education.

"All of us are trying as hard as we can but if there's no work out there for us, what can we do?

"I've even gone down the line of ringing people up saying, 'look can I work with you just for experience - I don't want any money, just give me experience' and some of them have even said no to that."

Mr Monaghan added: "We are going back to the 80s and early 90s where you see young people who are unemployed and don't have any immediate prospects of getting into any kind of work.

"These young people are our future generation and if we don't care about them then we are just going to have a ripple effect throughout their generation for ages to come."

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