Birmingham & Black Country

Sutton Coldfield man jobless after 60 applications

Paul Saunders thought he had a job for life when he started working as an engineer at BT in 1996.

However, when his wife, Kay, was diagnosed with breast cancer in late 2008, he took voluntary redundancy the following year to take care of her and has been unable to find a job for the past two years.

He said: "The hardest part is the frustration. I'm good employment material.

"lt's trying to get my point across to people that I'm hungrier now for work than I've ever been."

The 54-year-old from Sutton Coldfield has been unable to get an interview despite sending out more than 60 written applications.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed UK unemployment fell in March, but the West Midlands continued to lag behind the UK as a whole.

The figure in the West Midlands fell to 228,000, but the rate was 8.5% - higher than the national average of 8.2%.

"I knew it would be tough - it's no good going into these situations blind - but I thought I would at least be able to find something part-time, even just to make ends meet," said Mr Saunders

Mr Jones' wife is now in remission, but his job prospects do not appear to be improving.

He said: "It's more and more difficult as the time goes on.

"You do your applications via the email, but you get no response so you get even more depressed because you don't get any response from the hard work you put out there."

'Stumbling block'

Mr Saunders believes his age is one the main reasons why employers have been reluctant to call him for an interview.

"I feel, primarily, it's an age thing. They look at your application and they say, 'Well, he's 54, there's probably 10 or 12 years of life left in him' and it's far easier for them to go for someone who's 28 or 38," he said.

"I think that's a stumbling block, without a shadow of a doubt."

The jobless figure among 50-64-year-olds in the West Midlands currently stands at 32,000 or 4.7%, which is actually lower than the national rate of 5%.

Image caption Paul Saunders started working for BT in 1996 before taking voluntary redundancy in 2009

Corinne Mills, managing director of consultancy Personal Career Management, believes older people need to ensure their CVs are "contemporary".

"Your CV should be full of positive action words: 'I created this', 'I did this' - lots of energy," she said.

"You also need to show that you're bang up to date. So, if you're going for an admin role, you need to have down there that you have recently done IT courses."

Mr Saunders has cast his net wide in search for a job, applying for "everything from debt collection to conservatory construction to charity work" to no avail.

"You feel useless. Just to get back on the treadmill again and to be normal would be a marvellous situation to be in," he said.

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