After a week of draining Budget dissection, want to hear some good news? According to the latest ONS statistics, employment rose by 117,000 in the final quarter of last year and redundancy rates have, since 2008, been lower than in the late 1990s. Great, huh?
Tell that to Bear, an ex-squaddie who after nearly 23 years in the army has been unemployed since April last year. The reason I got chatting to Bear (his nickname, which he uses online for security reasons) is that he has been a man on a mission recently, and that mission has taken place on Twitter. He's been tweeting up a storm in an effort to find a job, sending out messages such as “I am very well turned out, punctual with great communication skills! I pride myself in being the best I can” and “If there is any man, more determined to land himself a #job on this planet, whose tenacity and initiative goes without saying…it's me” accompanied with pictures of his time in the army and his medals.
Why Twitter? “I've always been a bit of a Twitterer, and I took it upon myself a couple of years ago to raise a bit of money for a bloke down in London who I got friendly with,” Bear tells me from his home in Somerset. “He was involved in a road traffic accident on the M25 so I went about trying to raise money on Twitter for him. I raised £8,000 in 11 weeks for two scooters for him.” He decided that if he could raise awareness for charity “surely I should be able to do it for myself”. In the past week he's had TV presenter Jake Humphrey send out a tweet saying “If you can't employ this man, why not?”, and Duncan Bannatyne sending him a message saying “send me your CV”.
There's no job yet, but surely with more than two decades in vehicle and aircraft recovery and vehicle-fleet management (not to mention computer skills), a job shouldn't be so hard to find. However, without “civilian” certification, and despite sending out 30 CVs this week (as well as pounding the pavements in his home town), he's yet to find a position. “You know what I want to do? Anything. If you train me up to do something, I'll be whatever an employer wants me to be,” he tells me. He also reveals one of the reasons he thinks he hasn't been offered a job: ageism. “Companies want these young whippersnappers. People always say to me that experience is worth more than paper but employers don't see it that way. They'd rather see the certification. I just don't think you can beat experience.”
Bear is 40. Yes, he's far from alone in seeking a job. But he's sure working hard. Follow him at twitter.com/BigBearF1 and please, someone, #GiveBearAJob.