When bosses at the new Debenhams store in Fareham sought to fill 50 positions, they knew there would be a good response. But they never imagined that 1,500 people would send in applications.
The store has only just begun its recruitment drive ahead of opening in the summer, but was inundated straight away.
Yet should Debenhams have been ‘absolutely staggered’, as store manager Andrew Birt suggests? Sadly, too many people chasing too few jobs is a sign of the times.
When the refurbished Tesco Express in Havant reopened, 2,000 people applied for 250 vacancies. And when Havant Borough Council advertised for rubbish collectors, it received 200 applications for just two jobs.
The harsh reality is that there are a lot of people out of work and desperate to find it. The latest figures show that 2.5 million are currently unemployed in the UK, the highest figure for 17 years, and the number claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance in Hampshire is going up.
Creating economic growth and jobs is THE big challenge facing prime minister David Cameron and the coalition government.
Think back to 1978 and that iconic poster created by the Saatchi brothers for the Conservatives that showed a snaking line of people queuing for the unemployment office under the slogan ‘Labour isn’t working’.
It was a powerful image and was regarded as instrumental in the subsequent downfall of James Callaghan’s Labour administration in the following year’s election and the rise of Margaret Thatcher.
Now it is the Conservatives and Lib Dems together who must come up with ways of getting people back into work, many of whom have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Instead they have become victims of massive public sector cutbacks or companies forced to cut costs to survive.
Nobody is claiming there’s a simple solution. But as we wait for next week’s Budget, that shocking vision of more than 30 years ago of a huge queue of unemployed people is all too relevant today.