British employers should hire "surly", hoodie-wearing British men, rather than experienced eastern Europeans, the Employment Minister, Chris Grayling, said yesterday.
In a speech that echoed Prime Minister David Cameron's "hug-a-hoodie" comments and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown's pledge to "create British jobs for British workers", Grayling said firms were overlooking school leavers for more presentable workers from abroad.
"It's easy to hire someone from eastern Europe with five years' experience who has had the get-up-and-go to cross a continent in search for work," he said. "But those who look closer to home find gems, too. Very often the surly young man in a hoodie who turns up looking unwilling to work can turn into an excited and motivated employee."
Grayling's speech followed the release of figures showing an unexpected drop in the unemployment rate by 35,000 to 2.65 million over the three months to February, according to the Office for National Statistics, bringing the rate to 8.3 per cent. It is the first fall in unemployment since May 2011.
But the figures were flattered by a large increase in the part-time workforce, up 89,000 to 1.4 million. The fulltime work force fell 27,000 to 21.23 million. Mike Fetters, of Totaljobs.com, said: "Today's figures flatter to deceive. They look rosier than those of the past few months, but they hide a number of concerns - not least the staggeringly high levels of underemployment."
The number claiming jobseekers allowance rose to 1.61 million, up 3600 over the month, indicating that there will be no easing of the strain on the welfare budget.