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Gravesham teen shares her struggles about trying to find job as 70,000 people were left unemployed in Kent last month

The endless struggles to find work during a global pandemic are very familiar to Kent teenager Abigail Knox.

She's been trying to find a job since she turned 16 last August and has been applying for various roles including retail and hospitality work, the only roles she knows how to deal with.

Abigail Knox on the struggles of finding a job

She has left her CVs with various firms, but had struggled to find any positions during the pandemic as most places have remained closed as result of lockdown restrictions.

The teenager, who lives in Gravesham said: "I've been trying to find work since my birthday in August.

"I've been looking for any work, but I've mostly been applying for retail work as it's the only thing I know how to deal with.

"I live near Bluewater so I had been applying to loads of jobs there and I even left my CV at restaurants we ate at (when they were open) for any waitress roles but I never got past the first few stages of the interviewing process.

"I felt helpless because I wasn't getting jobs because I had no work experience because of Covid-19."

Abi has been applying for jobs at Bluewater Shopping Centre
Abi has been applying for jobs at Bluewater Shopping Centre

Abigail and her peers were meant to have work experience sessions at the end of their Year 11 school term at Mayfield Grammar School.

However, as the pandemic cut their school year short many pupils missed out on the opportunity and now Abi is studying at Northfleet School for Girls in the sixth form.

She added: "You can't really take part in work experience if you're under 16 and because of Covid-19 we haven't been able to get any jobs or experience either.

"I want to go to university to study a degree in professional policing.

"The thought of writing my personal statement for the application worries me because I don't have any of that experience they're asking for."

Abi is a under 18s goalkeeper Dartford Football Club
Abi is a under 18s goalkeeper Dartford Football Club

However, just after being interviewed about her struggles to find a position, Abi was overjoyed to hear she had indeed scored a job at something she just loves doing.

In her spare time, Abi is the under 18s goalkeeper for Dartford Football Club and through her football skills she has now been offered a part time job with another firm working in the sport and will be coaching younger children.

However, Abi is just one teenager who has been lucky enough to gain employment during the pandemic, many are still out of work.

A leading employment charity has warned companies may be 'nervous' about offering new work opportunities during the national crisis.

Latest figures show more than 70,000 people across Kent and Medway were unemployed by the end of February.

Many people are struggling to find work because of the pandemic
Many people are struggling to find work because of the pandemic

Among those aged 16 to 24 the number who are claiming jobless benefit has almost doubled in a year to 14,000 across the county.

The numbers have been described as staggering by charity CXK.

The charity based in east Kent and delivers career guidance and training to unemployed people across the county.

Chief executive Pauline Smith said: "I think any of us would say that the figures are staggering. It is never nice to see that a mean average of an increase in unemployment is around about 100% across our region and that is always worrying.

"One of the concerns that we have is we are seeing new areas with percentage increases for in excess of 100% so that is really concerning.

"Obviously lockdown has had a dramatic effect and it has slowed down everything but also stopped many employment opportunities that would have been there.

"We know that the jobs are not out there but also what is really concerning is employers are nervous about opening up new opportunities.

"We're in this kind of hiatus where it’s crashed down and there is real nervousness now around how it starts up again.

"We are also faced with thousands of people on furlough as well. What happens at the end of those periods? Is that going to increase the figures of unemployment?

"My view is the numbers are going to get worse before they get better so it’s really concerning across our patch."

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