Celebrities join battle to get young jobless back to work
Celebrity advisers have been drafted in to help the young jobless, a group which has soared by more than 600% in parts of the Westcountry since the recession.
The overall number of people classed as long-term unemployed in Devon and Cornwall has risen more than fivefold in just four years, according to the Prince's Trust, which warns many are "losing hope".
This steep rise has prompted the trust to stage an internet youth forum hosted by famous names from the world of music and television.
Singer Alesha Dixon and musician and record producer Mark Ronson will be among the trust's youth ambassadors attempting to reach out to the so-called "lost generation" through a webcast today.
The trust's regional director for the South West, Rosemary Watt-Wyness, said: "More than a million young people in the UK today are struggling to find work – increasingly, many are becoming trapped in a cycle of long-term joblessness. They are losing confidence and skills – sadly many are losing hope."
An analysis by the charity of official figures from the claimant count in 2008 and from this year, reveal Devon's young unemployed have rocketed from 155 to 950.
Cornwall saw an increase from 185 to 950 in those aged between 16 and 24 who are claiming Jobseekers Allowance for more than six months, meaning some 1,900 youngsters remain stranded on the dole.
MP Adrian Sanders, whose Torbay constituency is one of 600 UK "hotspots" where the young jobless are double the national average, said much was being done but more help was needed.
Mr Sanders claimed a 68% rise in the number of apprenticeships in the town over two-and-a-half years was encouraging, with 177,500 such positions created nationally in 2011.
"There is a global recession with other countries much worse than us and not buying what we want to sell – we don't produce things and companies don't take people on," he added.
"It is always the long-term unemployed, the disabled and those without experience who suffer, but local schemes like the South Devon Link Road will help.
"The government launched a £1 billion Youth Contract to counter this issue, but it requires even more support than that."
The Prince's Trust is set to stream Against The Odds live on its Facebook page today, giving youngsters access to the celebrity panel and job experts.
Prince's Trust ambassador and Britain's Got Talent judge Alesha Dixon, said: "It hasn't always been easy to get where I am today.
"No matter how difficult things get, the most important thing to say to young people now is not to give up hope."