THE North-East’s employment landscape is not overly buoyant but opportunities are increasing for people to get on the career ladder, it has been claimed.
Jobcentre Plus says pockets of expansion exist across the region as companies seek to strengthen workforces.
The optimism came as latest figures showed the North-East employment between April and June was at a record 1.2 million, with 51,000 further people in work compared to a year ago.
However, the numbers, taken in the period directly before the Brexit vote, showed the region remains the UK’s jobless hotspot.
The unemployment rate of 7.6 per cent, which equates to 100,000 out of work, was the highest of all regions and double that of the South-East.
But Carol Daniell, Jobcentre Plus’ external relations manager covering Darlington and Durham, said signs were becoming more positive.
She told The Northern Echo Durham City’s unemployment level had dropped three per cent year-on-year with Darlington showing only a small rise, which she said could be attributed to school-leavers and graduates making their first benefit claims.
She said: “There is certainly a reasonable amount of opportunities out there for people.
“There are pockets of growth and expansion.
“We have BHS closing, for example, but then we hear about Hitachi and what it is planning there (with 150 new trainbuilding jobs).”
Ms Daniell also said JobCentre Plus was ramping up a campaign to help youngsters into work.
She called on local businesses to offer their support, be that through work experience or talks offering an insight into career development.
She added: “We will be running support sessions and want employers to get involved through things such as work experience, which would give youngsters something real on their CVs.
“Work experience can really benefit a young person’s career, it’s important for them to be into that environment, be among people and get used to it.
“For many youngsters, it’s a bit like stepping into the unknown and somewhere where they can’t be looking at their phone all the time.”
According to the latest job figures, the UK’s employment rate has reached a record high of 74.5 per cent, with 31.8 million people in work.
They added 1.64 million people were unemployed, a fall of 52,000 over the quarter and 207,000 compared to a year ago.