TODAY the Oxford Mail launches its We Want To Work campaign to help 12 jobseekers back into the world of employment, writes Emma Harrison.
Redundancy and unemployment are not words anyone wants to hear, but our dozen hopefuls are unfortunately familiar with the experience – and are a small proportion of the 6,889 Oxfordshire residents now looking for work.
Over the next week, we will give the candidates a chance to shout about their skills – and hopefully find a job.
All of the jobseekers have been working with Action 4 Employment (A4e) to prepare for work and all have something to offer prospective employers.
Our campaign starts as the number of people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance in Oxfordshire fell for the fifth consecutive month.
August’s unemployment figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed those seeking work in the county was down 1,299 – nearly 16 per cent – compared with six months previously when it was 8,188.
Unemployment in Oxfordshire is now the lowest since January 2009.
The count fell in all districts except Vale of White Horse , where it rose from 1,051 in July to 1,064 in August.
Oxford has the highest percentage of claimants at 2.1 per cent of the population, but the claimant count dropped from 2,465 to 2,377 from July to August.
Bob Bradley, vice president of the Oxford Chamber of Commerce, said the decrease in people claiming benefits could be down to jobseekers starting their own business.
He said: “Oxfordshire is a pretty entrepreneurial area and there are a lot of people who in the current climate say ‘I am not going to sit around, I am going to start my own business’.
“That is good news for the economy when they start taking people on. I have seen quite a lot of people starting their own ventures.”
But Gill Tishler, director of Oxford Citizens’ Advice Bureau, said they had seen an increase in inquiries about redundancy and dismissals from about 16 a month in February to about 40 in August.
She said: “We have a concern about what is masked behind these unemployment figures around how many people are in part-time or poorly paid employment and how many are unemployed for longer than 12 months.
“Is there enough support getting these people back in to the job market?”
Ian Wenman, vice chairman of the Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The feedback I’m getting is the Oxford economy is resilient.
“We are faring better than other areas in the county because we have a vibrant economy and some very success businesses in the technology and motor industry.”