Belfast Telegraph

Santosh has a degree and speaks five languages... so why will nobody give him a job?

By Amanda Ferguson

He has a science degree, speaks five languages and has more than 20 years' experience in sales and marketing, but Santosh Chowdhury cannot get a job and is on the verge of approaching Belfast foodbanks.

The 58-year-old has applied for hundreds of jobs, including 50 in the last month. "I am really depressed and frustrated," he said.

Mr Chowdhury, originally from India but living in Northern Ireland since he left Holland in 2006, hopes sharing his story will show others they are not alone.

On the odd occasion he gets an interview, he says he is told he is too old or overqualified, and suspects racism at times.

"I have lots of experience as a sales and marketing professional, but I can't get a job," he said.

"I have been unemployed for nearly 10 years. The system isn't working. The Government needs to change what they are doing."

Mr Chowdhury, who speaks and writes English, Bengali, Hindi, Urdu and Dutch fluently, has completed hundreds of job applications and four free work placements, but has not been given a job at the end of them.

"I feel like a football being kicked around," he said.

"Why are there no jobs paying money? All the time you get letters threatening to stop benefits.

"I get £3.50 bus fare but no payment and no job at the end."

Mr Chowdhury receives £146.20 Jobseeker's Allowance every two weeks and after meeting bills such as electricity and gas has nothing left.

"I am hungry sometimes," he said. "I live on roti bread, curry and soup. I am thinking about going to the foodbank.

"I am a professional man with international experience. I just want a job. Please, someone, give me a chance to prove myself."

Participation and the Practice of Rights - the organisation set up by the late Inez McCormack - is supporting Mr Chowdhury in his quest for work while he lives on the dole. Sean Brady from PPR said: "Santosh's experiences are the result of political decisions at the Executive.

"Thousands are being failed by dead end 'back to work' schemes and incomes are being reduced with zero hour contracts, benefit changes and sanctions. Meanwhile, £3bn is invested annually to hire private companies with little return for the most vulnerable.

"Rather than paying companies to take on free labour from dole queues, the Executive could ensure real jobs for those who need them most when they spend public funds."

Santosh added: "I am desperate to work. I am living with hope. I want a job."

If you can assist Santosh in finding a job please call 078 3337 0827 or email

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