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Young, hopeful and jobless

An estimated 943,000 people aged 16-24 are currently unemployed in the UK.

Today programme reporter Tom Bateman will be following two young unemployed people in the months ahead as they look for work amid economic uncertainty and public sector cuts.

ROBERT SIMMONS

It's a cold, overcast day in the former cotton mill town of Chorley in Lancashire.

The once great textile manufacturing sites of this area are now replaced by that ubiquitous mark of the UK's 21st century economy - financial services.

Robert Simmons

Jobs in call centres are now a common career option for the young people of Chorley, whose grandparents would more likely have gone into the trade of cotton spinning.

"In a boom time there's plenty of jobs going," says Robert Simmons as he takes the 25 minute walk from his parent's home to the Chorley job centre.

"But there's just nothing out there for me.

"I went to work in a call centre, which is less than ideal as I didn't go to university for 4 years to work in a call centre," he says.

The 24-year-old has moved back in with his parents after graduating with a 2:1 honours degree in Music Production from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) in 2008.

Robert says he has debts of around £20,000 following his 4 years as a student but has been unable to find a job suited to his qualifications.

"With the credit crunch there has been a diminishment of the creative industries," he says.

"It seems like the creative jobs are the first to go."

Robert wants to work as a music recording engineer but believes that his decision to go to university has left him worse off.

"Some of my friends who left school at 16 now have good jobs with the police and the fire service.

"I feel like I've been left high and dry and penalised because I went to university."

Despite volunteering work, Robert has been without a paid job for the last 8 months and is claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA).

AMY QUINN

A 200 mile drive south of Chorley, along the M6 and the M5, takes you to the market town of Melksham in Wiltshire.

Next door to a chop suey takeaway, through a ramshackle gate and a front door that doesn't seem to close properly, lives 23-year-old Amy Quinn.

Amy Quinn

Amy is in the living room looking after her baby Michael, who had his first birthday last week.

"I'm currently looking for work," she says. "I'm not finding it easy because I left school without nothing."

Amy left school aged 15 saying she thought she "knew better".

After that she took mostly temporary work including at Royal Mail in Bristol and various factories.

She admits she walked out of her last job at a local supermarket because she says she "didn't get on" there.

But since having a baby Amy says she wants a better future for her son, and wants to start a career in care work.

It's a challenging prospect, though.

"It's all training and that and I can't do full time because it's all courses you've got to do," she explains.

"I wouldn't be able to afford the child care for one".

Amy is able to cope financially as Michael's father is in work and she claims Child Benefit and Income Support.

"I went to an interview at the Job Centre and I said to them 'I'd like to get back into work'," she explains.

"Even they advised me not to because if I done 16 hours a week they said 'you'll only be £50 better off a week'."

But Amy says she is still looking for part-time work because she doesn't want her son to grow up thinking his mum is "sponging".

Her search for work usually involves looking up job vacancies online.

"I'm always on the Internet. Newspapers have got nothing in," she says. "I've been for interviews. I was going to do some basic at the B&B, just helping out there."

"That was never successful either," Amy explains. "Someone else always gets their first."

"Because there's not many jobs going, so many people going for one job, it's like you've got a one in fifty chance of getting it," she says.

"And I'm never that one."

Tom Bateman will be reporting on the job searches of Robert Simmons and Amy Quinn throughout 2011.




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