White collar workers jobs misery

A SHOCK rise in the number of white collar professionals seeking redundancy advice emerged last night exposing the true impact the recession is having on ordinary families across the region.

A SHOCK rise in the number of white collar professionals seeking redundancy advice emerged last night exposing the true impact the recession is having on ordinary families across the region.

Numbers of highly-qualified, middle-aged workers resorting to careers advice has more than doubled since last year.

Senior staff expecting a 'job-for-life' are now making up the majority of those seeking help as the recession leaves their hopes and dreams in tatters.

The true picture became clear at a redundancy support workshop which attracted solicitors, engineers and managers in a desperate bid to get advice after suddenly finding themselves on the dole queue.

And it follows news that every vacancy in Norfolk has five jobseekers waiting to fill it.

One solicitor, who had been in practice for 30 years, had recently lost his job and was struggling to find new work.

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Tom Molloy, service manager for Norfolk Guidance Service, based at the county council, said the picture is completely different to that of a year ago.

'There has been a huge increase in the volume of people accessing services. It is up 100pc on this time last year and there has been a huge change in the type of people accessing services.

'There is now a large number of professional highly qualified people and people in careers who have had their job for a number of years, whether that's in manufacturing or professional services, who are very new to this world.

'It is no longer a revolving door, where you see the sort of people who are in and out of jobs. The people we are seeing now are concerned, scared and angry. They know there are a lot of initiatives out there that can help them but do not know how to access them.'

Mr Molloy said one job advertised by the service recently had more than 90 applicants. The same post last year attracted just 18.

'There was a difference in the kind of people applying who would not have done before, people who thought they could and would like to do this job but had not actively pursued a career in it.'

He said, while two new advisors had been recruited recently to cope with the soaring demand, the present climate put a strain on his team, which has to bid for cash from agencies like the Learning and Skills Council and the European Social Fund as it does not get council funding.

'People go into this field because they want to help others and if you are not doing that, because there are no jobs to give them, how do you measure your career worth?' he asked.

'It is also difficult because there are certain criteria people have to fill to access certain services and it is hard when you can't help them because of that. Then there are funding contracts which stipulate that we have to get a certain percentage of people in sustainable employment, which has been made very difficult by the present climate.'

Latest figures showed that the number of people claiming Jobseekers' Allowance in Norfolk is now 15,982, taking the rate to 3.2pc.

And separate research revealed last week that the number out of work is five times higher than the number of vacancies across the county.

Helen Richardson-Hulme, information, advice and guidance manager at City College Norwich, who organised the workshop at the National Skills Academy for Financial Services at St Andrew's House in the city, said the kind of people attending it had surprised even her.

'I had expected what I call quick hits, people coming in for leaflets and going straight away again. But instead we had people who stayed talking to everyone here wanting much more in-depth advice. I think it reflects the seriousness of their predicament and the fact that people do really need one-to-one support like this, not just to look at a website.'