Kickstart must focus on quality of placements to tackle doubling of youth unemployment


07 10 2020


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Kickstart, the centre piece of the Chancellor’s Plan for Jobs, is vital for young people facing long-term unemployment, but it needs to have a core focus on the quality of support and making sure young people aren’t left out says leading thinktank.

A new briefing paper from Learning and Work Institute warns that a focus on creating as many Kickstart jobs as possible must not come at the expense of quality training support or potentially excluding young people that need the most help.

Making sure Kickstart works


According to the latest labour market figures, the number of young people claiming unemployment-related benefits increased by 124% between March and August. Around 1.9 million young people aged under 24 were furloughed at some point. There is a risk that as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends, there will be a further substantial rise in youth unemployment.

Learning and Work Institute’s research suggests that the success of Kickstart will depend on five key factors:

  1. Youth Guarantee – Kickstart should be part of an overall aim that all young people are offered a job, training place or apprenticeship. Support should be tailored to young people’s needs
  2. Volumes – we need a large number of placements that covers the whole country and a range of sectors and job roles. This means engaging employers and making it simple for them to take part.
  3. Targeting – to make sure young people don’t miss out, local partners such as councils should be able to refer young people who are out of work but not on benefits to Kickstart, including 16-17 year olds who are not generally eligible for Universal Credit.
  4. Quality – DWP and local government should set out clear minimum standards for the quality of Kickstart jobs and support employers to meet these. In this way, supported jobs will benefit both employers and young people.
  5. Outcomes – every young person should have high quality training and job search support during their Kickstart job to maximise their chances of a permanent job. Employers who continue to employ a young person following the completion of the scheme should be eligible for a £1,000 ‘Kickstart Bonus’, with a particular focus on supporting young people into apprenticeships.
Stephen Evans, chief executive of Learning and Work Institute
The £2 billion Kickstart programme is welcome and urgently needed. Youth unemployment has more than doubled since March and likely to rise further as support for jobs, such as the furlough scheme, are reduced. To avert a long-term crisis, Kickstart needs to support large numbers of jobs, quickly, in an ongoing economic crisis. But Kickstart will not work if young people aren’t carefully matched to job opportunities, given the chance to improve their skills, and supported to find a job or apprenticeship at the end. We need to make sure young people that would benefit most aren’t excluded, that all young people get tailored support, and that our relentless focus is on sustainable employment and apprenticeships.

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