The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has urged the government to extend the Kickstart Scheme to help young people who are bearing the brunt of the subdued job market.
The Kickstart Scheme was launched in September and promised to pay the wages and associated employment costs for businesses taking on 16 to 24-year-olds in receipt of Universal Credit up to six-month contract periods.
The UK unemployment rate fell to 4.9% in the three months to February, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). However, 56,000 workers were cut from company payrolls in March, which represents the first monthly drop since last November.
Around 813,000 workers have been cut from company payrolls in the last 12 months as the pandemic adversely affected the jobs market. The ONS said young people continued to bear the brunt of the crisis amid job losses in sectors such as hospitality and retail.
People under 25 accounted for more than half of the jobs lost in the year to March, it added.
Matthew Percival, Director of People and Skills at the CBI, said:
‘Evidence continues to mount that it is young people’s jobs that have been hardest hit by lockdowns. Support for jobs and training will be vital to making the UK’s economic recovery inclusive.
‘Government should confirm that the extra lockdown at the beginning of the year means that the Kickstart Scheme will remain open for longer to allow businesses the time to deliver opportunities for young people.’
Internet link: CBI website
On 2 September 2020, the government’s £2 billion Kickstart Scheme opened for employer applications.
The scheme is part of the Plan for Jobs announced during Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s July Summer Economic Update.
The Kickstart Scheme aims to create work placements for young people who are at risk of becoming unemployed for the long-term. Businesses can join the scheme, with the government paying employers £1,500 to help set up support and training. Funding is available following a successful application process. Applications must be for a minimum of 30 job placements.
Businesses that are unable to offer this many job placements can partner with other organisations to reach the minimum number.
Selected out-of-work young people will be offered six month work placements for at least 25 hours a week to help them gain experience, skills and confidence. The scheme is designed to be a stepping stone to further employment.
Employers will receive funding for 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage (NMW) for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer national insurance contributions (NICs) and employer minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions.
Chancellor 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.
‘The scheme will open the door to a brighter future for a new generation and ensure the UK bounces back stronger as a country.’
Internet link: GOV.UK