HELP is at hand for young jobseekers in South Shields looking to find a route off the dole queue.
The Youth Zone programme at the town’s Jobcentre Plus in Chapter Row has proved a success since it was launched in May last year.
Since then, the number of people in the town aged 18 to 24 claiming benefit has fallen by almost 37 per cent.
Last month alone, the number of young people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance fell from 1,255 to 1,165.
That has been achieved by assisting young adults with multiple barriers to finding work, including poor grades and social behavioural problems.
All jobseekers are assigned an individual adviser and provided with work placements that lead to guaranteed interviews with national and local employers.
There is also support to learn basic IT skills and to make their CVs more dynamic and eye-catching.
Now, Youth Zone staff are calling on young people who have just left college and school to sign up to the programme and get into work.
Youth Zone adviser Debbie Morton is a passionate advocate for the work being done to “help hundreds of young South Shields people into work”.
And she uses one success story to prove the point.
She explained: “There was one particular customer who came to us. He had facial tattoos, and he had a number of social barriers to finding work, including a past of anti-social behaviour.
“He was assigned an adviser, and with that support, he’s now off the dole queue.
“We are working really hard and are changing people’s lives, and, as a direct result, a lot of people are finding sustainable employment, and a lot fewer are claiming benefit.
“Now, we want young people who are leaving school and college this summer who want to get into employment to come to us and to think about the careers they want to get into now.
“We can get them work experience, from which they can get references and build up a work ethic.”
Nationally, the Department for Work and Pensions says youth unemployment is now 127,000 lower than it was in 2010.
The DWP’S recent #firstjobs campaign has highlighted the unlikely starts on the career ladder taken by many celebrities.
They include TV presenter Davina McCall, who worked as a sales assistant; comic Lenny Henry, who started out as a welder; and pop star turned television presenter Myleene Klass, who used to survey rivers.