Land of opportunity: Manchester enjoys ‘booming’ job market as unemployment sees biggest drop in 26 years

Manchester’s job market will continue to flourish according to a Jobcentre Plus boss after new figures showed the North West had the biggest fall in unemployment across the UK.

The latest Labour Market Statistics (LMS) released by the Office for National Statistics (OSN) revealed that unemployment in the North West is down 27,000 to 239,000 from the period of May to July, and 46,000 on the previous year.

Employment in the region is also up 10,000 to 3.2million on the previous quarter, a 71,000 year-on-year jump.

Nationally, unemployment saw the largest annual fall in 26 years, dropping by 468,000 bringing the unemployment rate to a new six-year low of 6.2%. 

Penny Applegate, Employer and Partnership manager for Jobcentre Plus’ Greater Manchester Central and Cheshire district, says the flourishing job market makes filling positions difficult in the region.

“It gives us a bit of a problem because actually there are loads of jobs in Manchester and really I think the call to unemployed people is, please make sure you contact the Jobcentre and apply for the jobs that are going,” the 67-year-old said.

“We have about a thousand jobs in call centres, and they give in-house training, you don’t need experience, if you can talk on the phone and can use a keyboard then you’ve got a real opportunity.

“Sometimes people have this prejudiced view that they aren’t going to be a good employer, but actually there are lots of really, really good employers who are call centres.

“Some of their employees have really good terms and conditions. So it’s quite a bit of a negative view of that sector.”

The employment rate, at 73%, is also back up to the level seen before the recession with 30.61million people in work.

A number of businesses have re-located to Manchester, helping boost the region’s economy, and with the impending HS2 railway line, the city is on track to flourish.

“Manchester is a booming city, in all sorts of different areas,” Ms Applegate added.

“There are loads and loads of hotels coming into the city as well. The hospitality and retail sectors are really booming.

“From our point of view we’ve got lots of opportunities, lots of employers are prepared to work with us and we just want to get the right people in front of these employers and give unemployed people the chance to take advantage of the opportunities on offer at the moment.

“The majority of people do want to work and just need help to present themselves in the best possible way and get a bit more up-skilling or a little bit of recent experience or a reference they need.”

Across the UK, young people saw the largest annual fall in unemployment since records began in 1984 – falling by 213,000 on the year.

There are now fewer young people claiming job seekers allowance than just before the recession – having dropped by 133,200 in the past year and for 33 months in a row.

Schemes like the Government’s Work Programme have contributed to the largest drop in long-term unemployment since 1998 – falling by 175,000 on the year.

In Manchester, there are a number of schemes to help boost the employment chances of the younger generation.

The figures also show a continued growth in private sector employment – up by almost 800,000 in the last year alone.

There are now more than 2.16million more people in private sector jobs compared to 2010.

In Greater Manchester, the BBC’s multi-million pound base at Media City has created thousands of opportunities, particularly for young people.

One of these, the Ambassador’s scheme, is aimed at helping local 16-19-year olds develop their skills and gain experience to put on their CV.

“The BBC are recruiting for the Ambassador’s scheme at the moment, and that’s a wonderful opportunity for young people to get themselves known in that sector and begin to make contacts,” Ms Applegate said.

“There are ways in for young people to get experience, which is what they need.

“We’ve done quite a lot of work experience with people in the digital sector specifically, and it’s been a great way for somebody who’s done a qualification but hasn’t got the real hands on experience, which is actually what they need to apply for jobs.”

Announcing the latest LMS, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith said that creating jobs is central to building a ‘stronger, more resilient and stable economy’.

“With millions more people in private sector employment under this Government, it is clear that our long-term plan is helping Britain to recover its confidence following one of the deepest recessions in living memory,” MP Smith said.

“All of our reforms are focused on helping people off benefits and into work – giving people the peace of mind and security that comes with a steady income.

“With the North West seeing the highest fall in unemployment over the last three months of all the UK regions – down 27,000 to 239,000 – we are helping people to break free from welfare dependency, look after themselves and their families, and play their part in getting our country back to work.”

Image courtesy of Helen Cobain, with thanks

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