The UK is now moving into the last stage of our exit out of lockdown – with many of the legal restrictions no longer in force.
That’s good news – the result of a successful vaccine rollout and of our collective work to follow the rules to this point.
There has, of course, been an economic impact after lockdown. That’s why the Government stepped up in March last year with a package of emergency measures, including the furlough scheme and business loans, to keep unemployment rates low.
Those measures and more have been extended and improved over the past sixteen months, the government continues to deliver its Plan for Jobs which is supporting businesses, protecting jobs and levelling up the country.
Building back better
The Government has created a series of incentives to protect, support and create jobs. These offer businesses support to find talent, invest in building the capability of young people and guide future generations into work – vitally important as the data suggests those youngest generations have suffered the most from the pandemic’s economic impact.
The Government’s schemes are also designed to ensure young people right across the whole of the UK have the skills they need to get the jobs they want, ensuring businesses are empowered to create and support jobs.
The flagship scheme is the Kickstart Scheme, which encourages businesses toemploy young people age 16 to 24 (sometimes 25) to keep unemployment rates low, protect and support jobs and livelihoods.
Businesses can apply for funding which covers 100 per cent of the National Living Wage for 25 hours per week for a total of 6 months, along with associated pension and national insurance contributions. Support is available to large and small businesses a like.
There are also apprenticeship schemes, which gives businesses incentives until the end of September.
In England, a £3000 flat payment to employers for each new apprentice that joins their business before 30th September 2021.
Traineeships and T Levels are another element of the Plan for Jobs programme in England, where employers can receive £1000 for offering placements to support young people into work.
“That’s an amazing opportunity”
Jenny McLay is the founder of The Chocolatarium, an Edinburgh-based tourist attraction taking customers through the history of chocolate, how its made, and helping to make their own bar to take home.
The firm began in September 2019 – meaning only six months before the pandemic disrupted every bit of our lives.
She heard about the Kickstart Scheme from the Chancellor’s announcement.
“Like every business owner, I was hanging onto his every word. When he announced it, I thought that’s an amazing opportunity because we’re such a young business,” she tells us.
“I applied to the Kickstart Scheme really quickly. We initially took on six (young people) at the end of March 2021, and one now has a job with us.”
Jenny has found her Kickstart team an invaluable help within the business.
“The Kickstart Scheme allows you to grow your business in a way you couldn’t before,” she says, pointing to the new skills she’s been able to bring into the business.
“I wouldn’t have had the same pool of talent without the Kickstart Scheme because they can do things that I can’t – photography for example, or our copywriter Jamie who is a much better writer than I am. They all bring a talent or skills they’ve developed that I don’t have” she says.
“It’s really good for them and us and while I hope we never have a crisis like this again, I do think it’s a good idea. I think it’s important not to let people coming out of school at this time waste their talent and skills – we must keep them in the workforce.”
That’s what the Plan for Jobs is trying to do – and Beth Jamieson, one of Jenny’s Kickstart employees, agrees it’s been a real help.
“I graduated in July 2020 in photography from Edinburgh University last year, straight into the pandemic. My plan was to have a summer working the Edinburgh Fringe, maybe go travelling which obviously went down the drain. I was looking for jobs to do with my degree in photography or anything. But it was a big struggle,” she says.
Beth credits the Kickstart Scheme with “invaluable” help getting into the workforce.
“When I started at Chocolatarium, I did a marketing course online so I learned more about the logistics of it and it’s got me into marketing – I was open to everything but when I read the job description it sounded perfect.
“It’s part of Kickstart that they help you prepare for your next job. Even if you do a marketing degree, having the education within the context of the job you’re working in is really helpful. And with other jobs you might be thrown in at the deep end – there’s more support with Kickstart.”
Navigating the process
The Government recognises that small businesses in particular remain hard-pressed as they come out of the pandemic, so the Plan for Jobs has been designed to be as easy as possible to navigate.
The Plan for Jobs section of the Government website offers all the advice employers need to find their way through the system and access the incentive schemes at the heart of the programme.
As Jenny has found, it’s a win-win for employers, able to access the Kickstart Scheme in particular to find new talent who might well have a long-term home at the business.
- Kickstart Scheme: Apply to the Kickstart Scheme and for six months the Government will fund you to provide a job role for a young person aged 16-24 on Universal Credit.
- For each young person you take on, as a direct employer you will receive 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or National Living Wage, if applicable) and a £1,500 grant to support their learning.
- To be used to help the young person become more employable. Get your application in soon. Apply now to give the best opportunity of taking advantage of the Kickstart Scheme!
- Apprenticeships: expand and upskill your workforce; create a new job for someone looking to retrain or upskill or who has recently been made redundant.
- Traineeships: allows you to help support young people into meaningful work; you can design a programme that suits both the needs of your business and the needs of the trainee.
- T Levels: industry placements are an ideal solution for entry-level skills; placements give you the chance to work alongside the next generation of workers entering your industry, making sure they develop the knowledge, attitude and practical skills to succeed.
For more information on the support available to employers and young people visit the Plan for Jobs page