A young jobseeker

Marc is 19 and lives in Redcar in north-east England, a town where there are twelve times as many people claiming job seeker’s allowance as there are job vacancies. Despite having passed a number of GCSEs and A-levels and having applied for hundreds of jobs over the last two years, Marc is still unemployed.

Meet Marc in the following three videos recorded in autumn 2011 and find recent updates at the foot of the page.


© 2012. All films are the copyright of the PSE: UK project and must not be reproduced, posted or downloaded. The films were produced for The Open University by Angel Eye Media; filmed and directed by Gabi Kent and researched by Michelle Fox.


My dream job when I left school was working on the tracks, fixing the racing motorbikes, yeah, that was my dream job. Now at the moment I just want any job.

Marc, (young job seeker, Redcar)

Marc was born in Redcar and brought up, with his five brothers and sisters, by his mother. The family lived in Wales when Marc was younger but returned to Redcar in 2005. Mark has A-levels in ICT and PE and a B-Tec (level 3) in Public Service. He has completed several ‘employability’ schemes and applied for hundreds of jobs.

In Marc’s local area, at the time of filming, there were 5,490 job seeker’s allowance claimants but only 460 job vacancies, a ratio of 12:1, more than double the national average. One of his older sisters, aged 23, is unemployed and the other, 21, has temporary work as a chef. His two older brothers are both in low-paid work. His younger brother is still at school.

Marc has had periods of being homeless, which started while he was in college finishing his A-levels. When first filmed (in late 2011), he and his 21-year-old sister were living in temporary accommodation provided by Coatham House, a local charity for young people in housing need. Government cuts in funding to the local authority are currently threatening the charity’s funding.

Marc’s rent is met by housing benefit. His only other source of income is jobseeker‘s allowance, which, for under 25s, is £51.85 a week.


Youth unemployment

There are over one million young people under 25 who are without work – the highest figure since records began in 1992. Just over one in five young people are now unemployed, nearly three times the average rate. Long-term joblessness, especially among the young, brings a high human cost, often leading to a lifetime of intermittent and insecure low-paid work. There are currently 857,000 young people who have been out of work for over a year.

Jobseeker’s allowance

Since 1980, the value of this benefit has fallen by a half relative to average earnings. 

Under the government’s new benefit rules, jobseeker’s allowance, along with a number of other benefits, will be annually adjusted for inflation in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rather than, as at present, the Retail Price Index (RPI). The CPI rises more slowly than the RPI, effectively cutting the level of these benefits.

The government has run into controversy over moves to make young people work without pay or lose job seeker’s allowance (see Government revises its work scheme).

Update March 2013

Marc also featured in the ITV 'Tonight' special on 'Breadline Britain', broadcast on March 28 2013.

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