Sadly, young people suffer the most during economic downturns. As such, my colleagues and I at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and across government, have been working flat out to ensure that young people are at the heart of our post-Covid-19 economic recovery.
As part of these efforts, we launched the Government’s ambitious £2 billion Kickstart Scheme this week. The scheme encourages employers, of all sizes, to place 16-24 year olds on 6 month Kickstart placements in the private, public and voluntary sectors. Employers will receive funding for 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions.
The goal of this scheme is to provide those young people who are claiming Universal Credit and are at risk of long-term unemployment with the opportunity to gather real-world experience and get a foot on the job ladder. They will gain experience and confidence, build skills, and boost their career prospects significantly. I therefore encourage our local businesses to utilise this fantastic scheme.
The Kickstart scheme comes as part of the Government’s wider £30 billion Plan for Jobs. This substantial package of support will help people find existing jobs, will create new jobs through investment in infrastructure and housing, and protect jobs by revitalising those sectors which have been hardest hit.
As part of the Plan for Jobs, we are also offering employers cash bonuses to hire trainees and apprentices. The Government is offering employers a £1,000 incentive for each new Trainee they hire, £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire under the age of 25, and £1,500 for any apprentice aged over 25.
One of the challenges we face as a nation is ensuring that our young people have the relevant skills needed to fill future roles in high-value sectors. As such, we are providing £101 million to help 18- and 19-year olds to take high value courses at Levels 2 and 3, helping them obtain the skills needed to find work in sectors such as engineering, construction and social care.
During this uncertain time, it is also important that people have access to qualified advice and guidance. We are therefore expanding the National Careers Service by providing over £30 million to recruit more careers advisers, meaning that over 260,000 more people will be provided with advice. In addition, we are doubling the number of Work Coaches through Job Centre Plus to 27,000, expanding the Work and Health Programme to provide intensive support to people unemployed for at least three months, and will also launch a new scheme to support the long-term unemployed.
From this month, we are also providing a guaranteed foundation of support for all 18-24 year olds on Universal Credit. The Youth Offer will include 13 weeks of intensive support – including a referral to work-related training or an apprenticeship.
As mentioned above, my colleagues and I at DWP have been at the heart of these efforts to support young people during this difficult time. I will continue to work with colleagues to ensure that young people are front and centre in our post-Covid-19 economic recovery.
Finally, I would like to recommend the new Find a Job website: findajob.dwp.gov.uk. The website is growing in popularity with local businesses who are advertising vacancies so please do share the website with any family or friends who might be interested.