Real experiences of the UK jobs market

Unemployment has risen sharply to more than 2.5 million for only the second time since 1994, with a growing number of people finding it increasingly difficult to find work.

We talk to six people, all keen to work, about their experience of the job market.

Tony Hyde, 42, out of work for 10 weeks

Image caption Tony Hyde is working on his computer skills to help him get a new job

Both me and my wife were made redundant from the same company on the same day back in July. It's been a big blow to us both.

I was working as a duty manager at a greyhound race course. I'm finding it hard to get work at my age at a managerial level. I used to work in security, but I'm too old for all that standing on my feet now.

Every time I look at job ads, they want computer skills, so I'm brushing up on my skills now so that I'm a more suitable candidate.

Ivy Hyde, 27, out of work for 10 weeks

I was working full time as an administrative assistant at the greyhound stadium.

Image caption Ivy Hyde says employers are not interested in her degree in medical sciences

I must have applied for 50 jobs since then. I got a 2:1 degree in bio-medical sciences at Sheffield University and I haven't even been able to get waitressing jobs.

I've been offered three interviews in total. None of the employers were interested in my degree. They were more interested in the computer training I've done since.

I have one job offer from Bolton Hospital to do clerical work, which I'd love to get, but I'm waiting to hear back as they're running the CRB checks now. I've got another interview today with a local NHS Trust. Wish me luck!

Pauline Njoku, out of work for six years while raising children

Image caption Pauline Njoku wants to motivate other mothers to find work

I'm updating my skill set after a long time raising children.

I do some volunteer work working with elderly people. Ultimately this is what I'd like to do - I'd like to work in social care.

I'm trying to motivate other mums out there to let them know that they can break away from domestic life and have a new purpose.

I'm also doing this for my children. I want them to grow up being proud of their mum.

Dang-Azoumi Aboubacar, 32, out of work for nearly four years

Image caption Mr Aboubacar is doing courses in English and maths so he can enrol on a plumbing course

I've been a handyman, but I've been out of regular work for nearly four out of the five years I've been in Manchester.

I liked what I did and want to become a plumber. But when I attended the plumbing courses, I didn't think that my English and maths were up to the right standard.

So I'm now coming to do courses at LearnDirect so that I can go back on the plumbing course. I have two young kids. I don't want them to think that their dad just stays at home and takes benefits.

I want to be in a society, like everyone else. I want my children to grow up understanding the value of work.

Sandra Bevan, mid-50s, due to take voluntary redundancy

I've worked for the Ministry of Justice since 1970. I never wanted to leave. I loved my job. But what choice did I have?

Image caption Sandra Bevan has trained as an NVQ assessor in business administration

With all the cuts going on, it's too risky to try to apply elsewhere, not get the job and then be forced into compulsory redundancy without as good a payout.

I've been preparing myself for the big, wide world. This year I've trained as an NVQ assessor in business administration. I want to be able to help other people with their life-long learning.

I was worried I didn't have enough retail experience, so I phoned a new Sainsbury's store opening up and asked the HR manager if I could come in and do work experience.

They've been great and I'll be able to update my training to help me get a job training other people.

Ingrid Lewis, six months into her first job

I had my first baby at 16 and I've spent the last 24 years out of work.

Image caption Ingrid Lewis says having a job has changed her life and made her a different person

I'd lost all confidence in my abilities and was so used to being someone's mum, cook, cleaner, I'd lost all sense of myself. I've also had breast cancer for the last five years.

I saw a flyer for jobs at a new Tesco store and I spent three days calling the line trying to get through to find out how to apply.

When it finally dialled, my heart was in my mouth. I got through, passed the training programme and it's the best thing I've ever done.

Having a job has changed my life. I'm coming off my cancer medication in November and I'm just a different person.