Unemployment numbers are down in Western Isles

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There is positive news for job hunters in the Western Isles this week when the latest labour market statistics for the region were released.

Figures show an increase in employment in the last year and a significant improvement to the jobs market of five years ago.

The claimant count stands at 308 for October 2015 down 18 on last year and by 158 from 2010, in the 18 to 24 age group claims stand at 48 which is down by 22 on 2010.

A spokesman for the Stornoway job centre said: “The decrease in 18-24 unemployment is particularly pleasing to see and reflects the hard work put in by the Work Coaches in securing Work Experience placements for young people to give them the skills confidence and up to date reference which helps them find work.

“Most other Highland Jobcentres have seen an increase mostly down to Universal Credit keeping more people on our books as described below. The Highland Constituency have seen increase in reported unemployment over the same period.”

He added: “It is expected that Universal Credit will change the reporting picture as under previous Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) reporting, anyone working over 16 hours left JSA and were no longer included in statistics, if eligible they could claim Working Tax Credit but were not counted in unemployment reports.

“These jobseekers now stay on Universal Credit as it is an In Work Benefit which will eventually replace Working Tax Credits. Similarly anyone who became too ill to work whilst on JSA would previously have claimed Employment Support Allowance, they too now stay on Universal Credit and be reported in the statistics.”

The Stornoway Jobcentre currently operates Universal Claims for single people living in their own tenancy or with family or friends only.

Overall, employment in Scotland stands at 74.1% ahead of the UK average of 73.7%.

Talking about the latest statistics Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan commented: “It is encouraging to see more and more people come out of unemployment. The fall in youth unemployment is particularly welcome, though we still have a real difficulty in retaining young people here in the islands and have to work to counter that.

“It is vitally important we work with employers and other bodies to prepare young men and women for the world of work. Last year more than 100 people were funded by the Scottish Government to start a Modern Apprenticeship in the Western Isles.

“This is the type of ongoing investment in people and skills that needs to continue to keep our communities sustainable.

“The Scottish Government set the target of reducing youth unemployment in Scotland by 40 per cent by 2021 and we look well on our way to achieving that here.”