Millions of jobs have been protected, supported and created during the Covid pandemic by the government’s unprecedented £352bn support package, which has helped to safeguard businesses across the UK.
Part of that package is the Plan for Jobs, which includes financial support to encourage employers to recruit and train young people through the Kickstart, apprenticeship and traineeship schemes.
Each programme offers employers a package of support to build the capability of new recruits while creating opportunities for young people to develop their skills and experience – though interested parties should check their eligibility for each of the schemes.
On top of those training routes, the government has launched T Levels, which are now one of the main choices for students after their GCSEs and include a technical qualification as well as an industry placement with an employer.
What schemes are available – and how could they benefit you?
Kickstart Scheme (available in England, Wales and Scotland)
Kickstart is a £2bn fund which creates paid, six-month new jobs for thousands of young people who might be at risk of long-term unemployment.
If you are 16 to 24 years old and on Universal Credit in England, Scotland or Wales, you can ask your work coach to provide employability support.
Employers of all sizes can apply for funding for 25 hours per week for a total of six months.
For each young person taken on, employers will also receive 100 per cent of the National Minimum Wage and a £1,500 grant to support their learning.
Steph Stevenson, founder of HNB Hair and Beauty Spa in Sandbanks, Dorset, said she “didn’t hesitate to take on five young people” via the Kickstart Scheme during the height of the pandemic last year.
“Kickstart provided talent and funding at a time when HNB needed it,” Ms Stevenson said. “Since taking on the new recruits, they’ve been at the core of running the salon: shampooing clients, making sure stylists have the equipment they need and keeping our customer experience special.
“They also provide so much more than an extra pair-of-hands. These young people educate me too. Businesses need youngsters in order to relate to the world and be relevant: it’s always great learning what they think and what their expectations are.”
*For details available on incentives for Northern Ireland, please visit https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/articles/apply-jobstart-scheme-funding.
Apprenticeships (England only)
An apprenticeship combines practical training in a job with study.
The government is providing employers with a hiring incentive for each new apprentice they hire, with £3,000 for each apprentice businesses in England take on as a new employee between 1 April and 30 September 2021.
Apprenticeships allow businesses to expand and upskill their workforce, while creating a new job for someone looking to retrain or upskill or who has recently been made redundant.
Kim Lupton, a 20-year-old apprentice with not-for-profit social enterprise Youth Employment UK, said the scheme was the “ideal” choice for her.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better experience” she said. “If you work well while doing the job, rather than sitting and studying, I would definitely recommend it. It’s the best way to learn.
“As well as being able to earn money. I know people who have gone to university who are only doing part-time roles whereas me, I’m currently saving for a house while being able to study, and still have opportunities flying at me.”
Traineeships (England only)
There are a number of additional routes available for people to learn new skills, including a traineeship – a skills development programme for 16-24-year-olds (and 25 in certain circumstances) that includes a work placement and gets you ready for an apprenticeship or job.
The government has committed an extra £126m for the continued growth of traineeships to support more young people into employment.
This will include continued employer incentives of £1,000 per trainee per employer for up to 10 trainees for delivering a work placement lasting a minimum of 70 hours until 31 July 2022.
Traineeships allow employers to support young people into meaningful work while designing a programme that suits both the needs of their business and the needs of the trainee.
Adam Stallwood, who joined the Toolshed traineeship programme, explained how enrolling on the scheme had given him a new purpose: “I'd never used a drill, I'd barely touched a screwdriver, I really had no practical experience at all.
“I was quite a different person, and learning these skills and trades gives you more of a disciplined mindset. It gave me an opportunity and it got me in that mindset of working hard.”
T Level qualifications (England only)
T Levels are new courses which follow GCSEs and are equivalent to 3 A levels.
These 2-year courses, which launched in September 2020, have been developed in collaboration with employers and businesses so that the content meets the needs of industry and prepares students for work, further training or study.
T Levels offer students a mixture of classroom learning and ‘on-the-job’ experience during an industry placement of at least 315 hours – around 45 days.
Industry placements are an ideal solution for gaining entry-level skills and placements give you the chance to work alongside the next generation of workers entering your industry, making sure you develop the knowledge, attitude and practical skills to succeed.
The government has confirmed that £1,000 incentive payments will be offered for employers who host placements between 27 May 2021 and 31 July 2022.
Laura-Jane Rawlings, Youth Employment UK’s CEO, explained the benefits of the government’s employment schemes. “Young people are actively looking for opportunities that support them to learn and grow in quality employment,” she said.
“Schemes such as Kickstart, Traineeships, Apprenticeships, T Levels and Sector Based Work Academies, give young people the opportunity to start experiencing work, grow their skills and boost their confidence.
“Employers can utilise these schemes to grow their youth employment strategy, support skill development and increase productivity. Young people are curious, talented and bursting with potential.”
For more information on the support available to employers and young people visit the Plan for Jobs page.
All businesses should always check eligibility for each scheme.