Young people account for nearly two-thirds of job losses since the pandemic, according to the ONS. The most recent figures show that, while unemployment as a whole has returned to pre-pandemic levels, the number of young people who are unemployed still remains above.
Part of the Government’s response to youth unemployment exacerbated by the pandemic was the introduction of the £2bn Kickstart scheme last September. It aims to create 250,000 new jobs for young people.
Unfortunately, in the nine months since the scheme was launched, so far only 16,500 young people have started on Kickstart placements.
On offer is Government funding to pay for a six-month work placement for 16-24 year-olds for 25 hours per week at minimum wage. In addition to that, the employer can claim a £1,500 grant to cover onboarding costs such as equipment, PPE and training.
Two of the original barriers to using the scheme that employers reported were the requirement to hire a minimum of 30 people on the scheme and delays in processing applications. In February, the 30-person minimum requirement was removed, and the DWP confirmed in March that the average processing time for applications is now only 21 days.
Funding is only available until the end of this year for placements that will run until June 2022. We want to support UK employers of any size to make use of the Kickstart scheme and help young people avoid further long-term unemployment.
One further requirement that employers must fulfil to qualify for the funding is to provide Kickstart employees with employability training. This should cover such things as how to develop a CV and prepare for interviews and how to look for long-term work. At Randstad RiseSmart, we have developed a tailored Career Readiness programme specifically for Kickstart placements. It fulfils all of your training obligations and is covered by the onboarding grant – so there is no cost to employers. The training is delivered by a group of coaches experienced in working with young people.
The funding is available for the next few months, and now even easier to access. There is clearly a need to prevent the career prospects of a generation being lost to the pandemic, and bringing people into the scheme is at no cost to the employer. If you have not already considered using the Kickstart scheme to fill entry-level roles in your organisation, we urge you to do so.