Government launches £2 billion Kickstart scheme to get young people back to work

BMW Mini apprentices

A £2 billion  scheme to help young people into work has been launched by the government today. Under the scheme, announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak as part of his Plan for Jobs, employers can offer youngsters aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit a six-month work placement.

The government will fully fund each “Kickstart” job – paying all the age-relevant National Minimum Wage, National Insurance and pension contributions for 25 hours a week.

Employers will be able to top up this wage, while the government will also pay employers £1,500 to set up support and training for people on a Kickstart placement, as well as helping pay for uniforms and other set up costs.

The jobs will give young people – who are more likely to have been furloughed, with many working in sectors disproportionately hit by the pandemic – the opportunity to build their skills in the workplace and to gain experience to improve their chances of finding long-term work.

Businesses of all sizes looking to create quality jobs for young people can apply and there is no cap on the number of places. Household names including Tesco have already pledged to offer Kickstart jobs. The scheme will be open until the end of December 2021, with the option of extension if it proves successful.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “This isn’t just about kickstarting our country’s economy – it is an opportunity to kickstart the careers of thousands of young people who could otherwise be left behind as a result of the pandemic.”

Local authorities and chambers of commerce will help to pull together bids from companies who want less than 30 ‘Kickstarters’ to help make the process easier for small and medium sized businesses who want to take part.

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the initiative. She said: “The Coronavirus crisis has led to forecasts of much higher levels of unemployment and young people tend to be hardest hit when that happens.

“Kickstart is a welcome initiative from the Government in an attempt to help bring businesses and young people together to create new employment opportunities.

“We look forward to working with companies in making this scheme a success for business and for young people across the patch.”

“At a time when cashflow is tight, this fully funded scheme will help employers bring young people into the workplace and develop new talent for the future.

Business West manages a number of Chambers of Commerce across the West, including Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Bristol and Bath. Business West Managing Director Phil Smith, added: “To be successful, Kickstart needs to create long-term, quality employment opportunities and ensure that both businesses and employees are fully supported throughout the placement.

“Rooted in local business communities, Bristol, Bath, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Chambers of Commerce understand employers’ growth aspirations, and will be working to bring companies and young people together to create new jobs.”

Around 700,000 young people are set to leave education and enter the job market this year, with a quarter of a million more people aged under 25 claiming unemployment benefits since March – with youth unemployment having a long-term impact on jobs and wages.