The Government has launched its £2bn Kickstart aimed at helping young people into work as the labour market remains strangled by the coronavirus pandemic.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the programme, which aims to create thousands of new roles nationwide, will help youngsters aged between 16-24 who could be “left behind” following the crisis.
Under the scheme, employers will be able to offer young people on Universal Credit state-subsidised work placements for six months.
Businesses are able sign up to use the scheme from Wednesday, with the state also paying employers £1,500 to set up support and training for people on a Kickstart placement.
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.
“The scheme will open the door to a brighter future for a new generation and ensure the UK bounces back stronger as a country.”
The Government will pay 100% of the National Minimum Wage dependent on age, National Insurance and pension contributions for 25 hours a week for those on the scheme.
Major employers including Tesco have signed up to offer jobs through the scheme, it said.
The scheme, which will be delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions, will initially be open until December 2021.
Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said: “As we launch our £2bn Kickstart programme, putting young people at the heart of our revival – we are urging businesses to get involved in this innovative scheme and take advantage of the enormous pool of potential out there.
“Young people taking part will receive on-the-job training, skills development and mentoring, as we get them on that first rung of the jobs ladder and on their way to successful careers.”
The scheme has been welcomed by the British Chambers of Commerce, whose head of people policy Jane Gratton said: “At a time when cashflow is tight, this fully funded scheme will help employers bring young people into the workplace and develop new talent for the future.
“To be successful, Kickstart needs to create long-term, quality employment opportunities and ensure that both businesses and employees are fully supported throughout the placement.”
“Rooted in local business communities, Chambers of Commerce understand employers’ growth aspirations, and will be working to bring companies and young people together to create new jobs.”
FSB chair Mike Cherry said: “If more small businesses are unable to afford an apprentice, without the means to offer an industry placement for T Level pupil or provide a traineeship or kickstart role, we will be letting down the next generation.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the economy, if they struggle to survive we will see communities suffer, competition stifled and unemployment rise. Which for our young people could risk further damaging the life chances of a generation already impacted by truncated exams and lost education.”