As the effects of the pandemic continue to be felt over a year on, one of the hardest-hit brackets continues to be the 16-24-year-olds. As thousands of young people left full-time education, ready to take their first step on the career ladder, they instead were faced with more redundancies than had ever been recorded in previous years and dim job prospects.
This is exactly why in September 2020 the government introduced the COVID-19 Kickstart scheme. A £2 billion fund, which offers targeted support to young people who are struggling to get into work, through the creation of thousands of governments funded job placements, to kickstart the careers of both young people, and the UK economy.
In this blog, we’ll answers all your questions on the COVID-19 Kickstart Scheme, from what the benefits are to your business, to how you can apply.
What is the COVID-19 Kickstart Scheme?
The scheme is specifically aimed at young people between 16 and 24, who are currently claiming Universal Credit and may be at risk of long-term unemployment. The government will fund 100% of job placements for young people, covering the national minimum wage for 25 hours a week as well as national insurance and pension contributions so there is no cost to the business. You can choose to offer more than the national minimum wage, and more than 25 hours per week, however, this won’t be covered by government funding and you will have to pay the difference.
How Does the Scheme Work?
Any organisation, no matter how big or small, can apply to the scheme. There are however some criteria that the placement must meet:
It must last at least six months and be for at least 25 hours of work per week.
The placement must not be for a role that has already been advertised.
The placement must not cause existing employees or apprentices to lose their job or have their employment reduced.
The role shouldn’t require extensive training before the placement can start.
It must include support for young people to help them get work after they finish (if they’re not taken on longer-term following the placement).
How Do I Apply?
The scheme was officially launched in September 2020 and is expected to continue until at least December 2021. When the scheme first launched there was initially a caveat that employers would have to offer a minimum of 30 placements to qualify for the scheme. However, as this was ruling out many smaller employers, the government has recently removed this requirement.
To apply for the scheme, you can either do so online yourself or you can seek the assistance of a Kickstart gateway who is already working with the Kickstart scheme. A Kickstart gateway can be any type of organisation, but one that already has a Kickstart Scheme grant agreement in place, which they can add employers and job placements onto. More information can be found here.
What are the Benefits to my Business?
It’s clear that the COVID-19 Kickstart Scheme will help a lot of young people get back into employment, but this is also a great opportunity for businesses and employers. As the placements are fully funded by the government, businesses can benefit from an increase in skills and support, with no additional cost. There isn’t a long term commitment to provide roles after the 6-month placement has been completed, and providing all the necessary criteria are met, each employer will receive a £1,000 grant for every successful job placement.
How Can We Help?
If you are considering taking part in the COVID-19 Kickstart Scheme, we understand that managing the ever-changing payroll needs for an increased workforce may be confusing. Here at Azure Global, we are here to help.
Our team are ready and happy to help you through the ideal options for your business and put a plan in place for your business payroll needs.
Contact our friendly, knowledgeable staff today to discuss what we can do for you.