A TEENAGE job-seeker who has unsuccessfully applied for more than 400 jobs this year last night hit back at attitudes towards unemployed youngsters, insisting: “We are not all work-shy.”

Bob Jewers said his efforts to find employment demonstrated how much of the media’s portrayal of jobless youngsters as “feckless, workshy and downright lazy” is inaccurate.

The 19-year-old, who has received only four replies from employers, despite sending hundreds of applications since January, was particularly stung by comments made by a leading judge on BBC1’s Question Time.

Judge Constance Briscoe, a panelist on last week’s show, told the audience: “I think we spend too much time subsidising people who really don’t want to work.

“In this country, we have a something-for-nothing attitude.”

The judge was responding to a question about a survey that revealed 54 per cent of people thought benefits were too high and discouraged people from returning to work.

But Mr Jewers, from Darlington, said: “Living on Job Seekers’ Allowance of £53.45 a week is very difficult. I was living with my brother, but I’ve had to move back in with my mum and dad because I couldn’t afford it. I find it almost slanderous that the mass media in this country has portrayed myself, and the other one million young unemployed people as feckless, work-shy and downright lazy.

“In the past 11-and-a-half months, I have applied for at least 400 jobs, and yet I have only been invited to a single interview. The story that is reported is not the scandalous waste of a talented generation, but a fairytale about how Job Seekers Allowance of £53.45 a week is stopping young people from taking up employment opportunities, which we are led to believe are offered left, right and centre, but which young people consider to be below us.”

Mr Jewers has 11 GCSEs at B and C grades, including maths and English, and three AS Levels in sociology, geography and history.

He started a photography course at Cleveland College of Art and Design, in Middlesbrough. But when the Government abolished the Education Maintenance Allowance, Mr Jewers was unable to afford the bus fare to get to college and dropped out in January.

Since then, despite applying for many entry level jobs, including bar work and pot washing, he has been unable to find employment.

“I want to work, I want to pay tax, I want to feel as though I am contributing to a strong, cohesive British society,” he said.

“But until we stop talking down our young unemployed and start investing time, effort and, most importantly, our trust in them, this situation will not change.”

Darlington MP Jenny Chapman said: “It is a tragedy to see someone at such an early stage of their life have to fight so hard to get to the first stage on the ladder.

“We should be working hard to support young people like him.”

James Ramsbotham, North-East Chamber of Commerce chief executive, said: “I feel for any young person seeking work in the current economic climate, but admire Bob’s determination and his refusal to give up after applying for so many jobs.

“I would urge him, or any young or unemployed person, to consider an apprenticeship.”

Lynn Walton, volunteer co-ordinator at charity eVOLution, in Darlington, which helps unemployed people find work, said: “We run two weekly work clubs, which help people who are looking for jobs brush up on their interview skills and polish their CVs.

“We would be more than happy to help Bob if he feels he would benefit from this.”