St Helens is leading the way when it comes to getting people back to work, the latest labour figures show.
Statistics reveal the number of residents on out-of-work benefits in August was 3,025, a massive drop of 15 per cent on this time last year.
The picture for young people was equally positive, with 810 claimants between 18 and 24, a drop of 20 per cent from 12 months ago.
The figures, released by Nomis, show St Helens is performing above the city region average for getting people into employment and the Jobcentre Plus said it was delighted with the current situation.
The organisation paid tribute to St Helens Council and the chamber of commerce, particularly for its work with young people, and said companies in a range of sectors including transport and leisure were approaching it to help find St Helens staff and should help keep the borough’s economy flying high.
Jobcentre Plus district press officer Alan Harrison said: “The local authority and the chamber are brilliant with apprenticeships, they’ve got them nailed down and they control them centrally.
“I’m not saying everyone aged 18 to 24 is on an apprenticeship but given that drop I would imagine every single apprenticeship will be taken.
“We’ve now got more vacancies on record than we’ve had before. We’re working with the Air Factory which is opening a trampoline park on its full-time contracts and I think it’s a good indicator that the company has chosen St Helens.
“We’re also working with hauliers who want to train HGV drivers to bring the average age down.
“We are now looking at two and a half years of consistent reductionsn in unemployment claims. There are jobs and people are taking them. They might not be the ones they want to do for their whole lives but it’s giving them an opportunity to show what they can do.”
The figures showed there were 1,945 men and 1,080 women claiming out-of-work benefits in St Helens last month, with 480 people aged 18 to 21, 1,650 between the ages of 25 and 49 and 565 people over 50 needing some form of support.
Mr Harrison also sought to reassure jobseekers they would not be forced into jobs using zero-hours contracts, as the controversial practice is about to return to the headlines with a high-profile court case about to take place in London.
He said: “Anyone who is unemployed who decides not to take a zero-hour contract will not be penalised. I know in the past that wasn’t always the case but it is now.”