MP urges young people to consider army careers amid Covid jobs slump

Broadland MP Jerome Mayhew. Picture: Danielle Booden

Broadland MP Jerome Mayhew. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

A Norfolk MP has said “now is a better time than ever” for young people to join the armed forces due to a rise in unemployment among 18-24-year-olds.

Broadland MP Jerome Mayhew has highlighted careers in the armed forces as an “excellent life choice” while questioning a government minister about recruitment in the military.

It comes after young people in Norfolk described the “confidence shattering” process of job hunting during the coronavirus pandemic amid fears over a lack of future opportunities.

During Department of Defence (DoD) questions in the House of Commons (HoC), Mr Mayhew asked “what steps the department is taking to recruit and retain armed forces personnel”.

READ MORE: ‘It’s confidence-shattering’ - Young people’s battle to find jobs amid pandemic

The Conservative MP added: “As a response to Covid, we’ve seen unemployment figures start to rise, and that’s particularly reflected in the 18-24-year-old demographic.

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“Does the government agree that this is an opportunity to recruit - perhaps even to meet our full-time training requirement for the first time since the year 2000?

“Does the minister agree that a career in the armed forces represents an excellent career life choice and now is a better tie than ever to sign up?”

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James Heappey, parliamentary under-secretary of state for defence, said: “During the 2019-20 year, the armed forces hit 93pc of our inflow target despite Covid-19 disrupting the end of the year.

“Recruitment was however 31pc up from 2018-19.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus impact on Norfolk jobs revealed by unemployment figures

The Conservative MP for Wells added: “Whilst the armed forces are doing excellent work to continue that success, Covid has had an initial on training flow through this year.

“In the short term, therefore, we expect to see lower flow through.

“However, early signs are that this will be mitigated by improved retention and, very encouragingly, a good flow of rejoiners.”

Mr Mayhew, who founded the outdoor adventure company GoApe, was elected in the Broads constituency in the 2019 general election, with a majority of 21,000.

Figures released by the Institute for Public Policy Research predict over one million under-25s will be unemployed in the UK by the end of the year - the highest on record.

However, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found Broadland had the lowest unemployment rates in the county, with just 4.1pc of residents out of work - a rise of just 2.9pc on the previous year.

READ MORE: ‘It’s a huge change in my life’ - Go Ape founder elected Broadland MP

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