The Thatcher Crisis Years

An era of protest and fury

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.

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