The Treasury has launched a £2bn ‘Kickstart’ scheme designed to address post-Covid youth unemployment by creating government-subsidised jobs across the UK
Under the scheme, 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 100% of the age-relevant national minimum wage, National Insurance and statutory automatic enrolment minimum pension contributions for 25 hours a week.
Employers will be able to top up this wage, while the government will also pay employers £1500 per job placement to cover support and training and to help pay for uniforms and other set up costs.
The aim is to 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.
Applications must be for a minimum of 30 job placements. Businesses which are only able to offer one or two job placements can partner with other organisations, such as similar employers, local authorities, trade bodies or registered charities, to reach the minimum number.
The intermediary applying on behalf of a group of employers is eligible for £300 of funding to support with the associated administrative costs of bringing together these employers.
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.
‘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.’
Young people will be referred into the new roles through their Jobcentre Plus work coach with the first Kickstarts expected to begin at the start of November.
The scheme, which will be delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions, will initially be open until December 2021, with the option of being extended.
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, when the Covid-19 lockdown was introduced.
As of July, there were almost 538,000 young people aged 24 and under on universal credit. Young people are also more likely to have been furloughed than the general population (47% compared to 32%).