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Jobless figure hits highest level for more than a decade

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National unemployment has reached 1.92 million, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) confirmed this morning unemployment has reached its highest level for more than a decade and the numbers of unemployed have increased by 85,000 since December.

The news comes as Dutch food processor Vion announced 820 job cuts.

Kevin Green, chief executive of the REC, said: "This gives great cause for concern but the recruitment industry will respond by working with Jobcentre Plus in getting people back to work as soon as possible."

And Chris Banks, chair of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), urged employers to take advantage of a leadership training fund from the LSC's Train to Gain service to protect themselves and staff from redundancy.

He said: "These are clearly turbulent times. No one can be in any doubt as to the global impact of the credit crunch. It is on our doorsteps and UK businesses are clearly suffering.

"We need to insulate ourselves against this wherever possible and so I urge companies to take advantage of money designed to pay for good quality leadership skills that will help managers and leaders steer their organisations through these very difficult times."