Schemes to help businesses hire young workers

The ONS Labour Market Overview for October – December 2020 confirms that under-25’s remain the worst hit group for unemployment since the pandemic began. During this timeframe, 18 – 24 year olds accounted for nearly three-fifths of the 5.1% of unemployed workers.

There are various schemes, many backed by the UK government, aimed at boosting the jobs market and helping younger workers by offering incentives and support to employers. Here’s a short guide breaking down what schemes are available right now and how your business might be able to use them.


Kickstart Scheme


What is the Kickstart Scheme?

The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to create new job placements (for a total of six months) for 16 – 24 year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment. The £2 billion programme was announced in summer 2020 as part of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Plans for Jobs package, which was designed to tackle unemployment among young people who are typically the worst hit demographic during financial crises.


Employers are able to spread the start of Kickstart job placements up until the last day of 2021.


What incentives are on offer?

The Kickstart Scheme provides funds covering:

  • 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage depending on the age of the participant) for 25 hours per week
  • Associated employer National Insurance Contributions


Which businesses are eligible to apply to the Kickstart Scheme?

This scheme is available to all businesses, regardless of size. Unlike when the scheme was first introduced, there’s no longer a minimum requirement of 30 job placements to apply directly for a grant, so businesses that only have a few vacancies are now eligible to receive funding.


How do I apply?

You can begin by either applying online yourself as an employer or seek help from a Kickstart gateway –  this is another employer who is already working on the Kickstart Scheme and already has (or is waiting for) a grant agreement.


Apprenticeship Service


What is the apprenticeship service?

The apprenticeship service gives you ways to recruit apprentices, access government funding, find and manage training providers, and post apprenticeships. All of these features can be managed through an employer account, giving you the ease and flexibility to devise apprenticeship programmes that best serve your business needs.


What employer incentives are available?

Financial incentives from the government for apprenticeships include:

  • Incentive payments up to £2000 for apprentices aged 16-24
  • Incentive payments up to £1500 for apprentices aged 25 and above

As an employer, you can decide how to spend the incentive to best support the needs of your business and your apprentice. What’s more, you can offer candidates a Kickstart Scheme placement first and then move them to an apprenticeship – if you choose to do this, your company will still have access to these financial incentives for apprenticeships.


Which businesses are eligible to use the apprenticeship service?

Financial incentives for the apprenticeship service are available to companies of all sizes that offer someone a skilled job with formal training for at least 12 months. Currently, incentives are available for apprentices who are hired by 31 March 2021. You can retrospectively apply for incentives until 30 April 2021.


T Level Industry Placements


What are T Level industry placements?

T Levels are new, two year courses for 16 – 19 year olds which have been designed in collaboration with employers to offer a blend of education and experience in the workplace with a 45 day industry placement. Each T Level qualification is equivalent to three A Levels.

T Levels are a fresh alternative to traditional post-16 education, offering businesses a new way to gain access to the brightest talent among young workers. These industry placements are ideal if you are experiencing a shortage of entry-level skills and need extra hands for a limited time.


Which businesses are eligible to offer T Level industry placements?

Running as a pilot programme for the 2020-2021 academic year, T Level industry placements are available for all employers who can offer the mandatory 45 day placement for young students. This means you can tap into the next generation of workers, benefit from their ideas and help shape their careers – you can even use industry placements to build a pipeline of ideal candidates for any apprenticeships or entry-level positions you may want young people to grow into.


How can T Levels help you recruit young workers?

By working with local schools and colleges to find and connect with potential placements who have interest in your industry, you can avoid many of the costs typically associated with recruitment.

Employers can access up to £750 in funding through various providers in selected regions. Additionally, there are no mandatory costs to you as an employer for taking part in the industry placement programme (however, you can choose to pay placements a wage and/or payment for expenses such as travel and food expenses).




What are traineeships?

Traineeships are skills development programmes which include work placements. Full programmes can last from six weeks up to one year (in general, most traineeships offered by employers last for less than six months).

Candidates who become trainees can gain qualifications in English, maths, digital and work-related skill sets. The qualifications offered through traineeships can even lead trainees on to any apprenticeships, Kickstart placements or employment offers you may wish to offer in the future.


How can traineeships help you recruit young workers?

Financial incentives from the UK government are available for all employers offering traineeship work placements between now and 31 July 2021. Funding support includes:

  • £1,000 per young person placement
  • Maximum of 10 incentive payments per employer, per region


SWAP: Sector-based work academy programmes


What are sector-based work academy programmes?

Fully funded by the government, the SWAP offers a combination of work experience placement (lasting up to six weeks) with pre-employment training off site or online. Placements are designed to help meet your immediate and future recruitment needs, with the programme offering flexibility to address your business and sector requirements.

Administered by Jobcentre Plus, sector-based work academy programmes are available to all jobseekers aged 18 and up, and provide a great opportunity for employers to grow their workforce through young people in need of experience.


Which businesses are eligible to offer SWAP placements?

Each SWAP placement consists of three main components for jobseekers:

  • Pre-employment training
  • Work experience placement
  • A guaranteed job interview


For any businesses which feel they cannot offer all three components, Jobcentre Plus staff can provide support to fill any gaps.