‘Nothing short of stunning’ is how Job Centre Plus describe the staggeringly low number of East Cambs young people looking for work

Jobs Centre Plus

Jobs Centre Plus - Credit: Archant

Numbers out of work in East Cambs dropped 33 per cent in the past year – but among young people the drop was a massive 53 per cent.

Translated into numbers it means that in June this year the total number of unemployed people in the district was 265 compared to nearly 400 this time last year.

And among 18 to 24 year-olds the numbers looking for work are just 30 in an area that covers Ely, Soham, Littleport and the villages. This time last year there were 65 looking for work.

Julia Nix, district manager for East Anglia Job Centre Plus, was delighted at the improvement.

She described the 53 per cent drop in young people looking for work as “great, absolutely great. If you want a job you can get a job. Such a performance locally is nothing short of stunning”.

She said: “It’s a great labour market in this area – the growth in and around Ely is brilliant. Take the new cinema complex for instance – once built it could easily take all of those 30 young people looking for work.”

Mrs Nix said the situation was particularly good for anyone looking for work and employers struggling to recruit had to think carefully about what they could offer.

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“If you’re not the best employer and not paying as much as your neighbour you are going to struggle,” she said.

Mrs Nix felt that the retail sector in particular where vacancy levels were well documented might need to consider their approach. For example being friendlier to working mums in terms of hours worked and “starting to think more how they are going to be more creative”.

Family friendly policies were more important than ever, she said but it was also important to tackle employers who wanted a young worker and could often be advised of the suitability of taking those with experience and the right attitude.

She said the labour market would always create challenges for companies such as G’s where, for example, they might need 900 people to pick celery and lettuces from April to the end of September.

“We have a total of 265 people out of work,” she said. “You have to worry you do need extra people coming into this country.”

She said companies such as G’s “do come to us and we do try and get them local people. Cynics say everyone should go and pick lettuces but some will never be able to pick a lettuce. Land work is not for everyone never has been.”

Employment minister Damian Hinds said: “There’s good news in the East of England where there’s a record number of people inwork and the employment rate is 77.9 per cent, one of the highest rates for any UK region.”