ANGER and upset have been expressed about the closure of a vital youth careers service in Worthing – which shut its doors for the last time yesterday (Thursday, March 15).
The Connexions careers service, established locally in 1973, has been based at the Chapel Road site since 1996.
The centre, which supported young people into employment, education and training, closed at a time when youth unemployment is rising.
Over the years, thousands of young people have been helped into sustainable employment and training by professionally qualified staff at the centre.
Many also received advice and guidance in schools, colleges and outreach facilities.
Chris Braggs, 21, from Southwick, went to Connexions and was helped not only into training and a job, but was supported in his search for a home.
He said: “I wouldn’t have got anywhere if it wasn’t for Connexions. I was homeless, living on a park bench with a Tesco bag of clothes.”
Chris now lives independently and works full-time for A-Plus Removals.
Matthew Smith. 20, from Sompting, said “Connexions gave me the confidence and skills to access a course which led to me being accepted into the Army.
“It’s a disgrace the centre’s shutting.”
Funding cuts have resulted in the closure making 14 out of 17 Worthing staff members redundant.
Across West Sussex, 48 jobs are being lost.
Sue McCabe, 50, a qualified Connexions careers adviser for 12 years, said “My concerns are where young people will now go for careers guidance?”
Dan Sartin, deputy branch secretary of UNISON West Sussex, said “The shutting of the centre in Worthing, and the wider redundancies across West Sussex, will have a damaging impact on the lives of young people and the workers who helped them.”
The future of careers provision is to be delivered by schools. A replacement national website is also being made available.
Locally, the Information Shop on Warwick Street will provide a limited range of information and advice services.