December 8, 2023

The 70s 80s 90s Blog

Three Decades of History with TV historian Tony McMahon

Jobs Express led to jobs creation!

2 min read
The Jobs Express took hundreds of young unemployed people around Britain in 1981 and some companies along the way offered jobs

In 1981, the Jobs Express train chugged across Britain crammed with jobless youngsters. At every stop, there would be a gig or a disco. But in London, a firm claimed to have been so moved, that it created 25 jobs on the spot.

Swan National Car Rental – claimed to have been so ‘inspired’ by the train that it asked for 25 new recruits and begged other companies to do the same kind of thing:

The Swan National Car Rental Company, which has operations throughout the UK, has informed the TUC that, inspired by the Jobs Express, it has decided to create 25 new jobs for young people and the Jobs Express Travellers will be given a first opportunity to apply.

25 November 1981

I reproduce the letter the firm issued below. It would be interesting to know what pay was on offer and whether any of the young people took it up. If anybody reads this post and has any answers, I’m burning with curiosity.

For many young people at the time, the choice was between the dole and going on one of the new training schemes. The Youth Opportunities Programme – or YOP – was hated both for the low level of pay and the nature of the work. What young people wanted was a return to the apprenticeship schemes that had traditionally led to reasonably well paid, unionised work in manufacturing. But those days, as would become increasingly clear, were over.

DISCOVER: Love on the dole under Thatcher

The Jobs Express was a campaign supported by the TUC, Afro-Caribbean Organisation, British Youth Council, National Association for Asian Youth, National Union of Students and Youthaid.

4 thoughts on “Jobs Express led to jobs creation!

    1. I was on the jobs train too- from Manchester, I was 17 and doing a YOP at a trade union. Does anyone remember UB40 playing for us in London? Not sure if it was Hyde park or a different park. We met up with another load of protesters who joined us for the day- my sister Jane was one of them.

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