Kickstart is a new Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) scheme which plans to provide £2 Billion in funding to employers to create new job placements for 16-24 year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment. Kickstart has been created as part of the Governments’ HM Treasury – Plan for Jobs (2020) initiative to boost job creation in the UK and support the country’s recovery from the coronavirus outbreak. This is essential as Young People were the most likely to have been furloughed (24%), lost their job (9%) or lost hours (2%) compared to any other age group (Resolution Foundation, 2020).
The latest Labour Market Statistics released on 23rd March show that long term youth unemployment has risen by 40% to 215,000 young people out of work for six months or more. This is a cause for concern as the evidence shows a long-term scarring impact on people who experience long term unemployment in their youth.
This explains the government’s enthusiasm for the Kickstart Scheme with Chancellor Rishi Sunak spearheading a campaign; over 120,000 opportunities have been created since September with both corporate and SME businesses engaging with the opportunity. Organisations such as the CBI have praised the programme and the opportunity of bringing business and government together to tackle youth unemployment.
There have been a number of challenges with the programme, especially in ensuring pledges of placements convert into vacancies for young people. This may be expected with the speed that it has been set up and with the challenges presented by a third national lockdown. Kickstart is unlikely to achieve its full potential until the lockdown is lifted and more businesses are back to full operation and those young people furthest from the labour market can once again be supported with face-to face services.
Data from a recent FOI request shows that there are also some challenges around regional availability and sector interest.
Figure 2: Kickstart vacancies across the UK recorded since the start of the scheme split by occupational area as provided by DWPThe FOI data presented above was received on the 4th March 2021, covering the period to 25th February 2021.
The Youth Employment Group among many others have been calling for an extension to Kickstart which is due to come to an end in December 2021. The group released a paper to coincide with the Budget outlining 5 reasons to extend Kickstart including the fact that youth unemployment will still be a pressing issue beyond 2021 and this scheme needs to provide support to young people, particularly those who find themselves long-term unemployed.
Barry Fletcher – CEO, Career Connect: “We believe Kickstart is a crucial scheme for Young People and will help ensure they have the opportunity to gain experience and opportunities that have been curtailed by the pandemic. As this analysis shows there is still more to do to ensure Kickstart provides opportunities across the UK and can play a key role in the recovery.”
Laura-Jane Rawlings – CEO, Youth Employment UK: “It is really useful to have this dataset, Kickstart will provide an excellent opportunity for young people looking for employment, particularly those young people who need the additional wrap-around support offered within the programme. It is key that there is equal access to opportunity across the country and that young people wherever they live can access the programme, it is also important that Kickstart opportunities are offered across all sectors to respond to the aspirations of young people and future workforce needs. With this data we can see where there are gaps and work collectively to encourage youth friendly opportunities in the areas and sectors with slowest take up.”
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