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The UK Government’s Kickstart Scheme - A guide for employers

Written by Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce | 24 Sep 2020

This month the UK Government launched a new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme to create thousands of jobs for young people.

The scheme was announced by Rishi Sunak back in July, as part of the government’s plans to protect, support and create jobs.

Tesco and Network Rail are among some of the big employers who have announced they will be signing up to the scheme. But the scheme isn’t just for large organisations. Small businesses can also take on “Kickstarters”. Read on to find out what the Kickstart Scheme is all about and whether it’s right for your business.

What is the Kickstart Scheme?

The Kickstart Scheme was launched by the UK Government to provide six-month work placements for 16 to 24-year-olds. It is aimed at those on Universal Credit, such as school leavers or those who have had job offers withdrawn.

The idea is that young people at risk of long-term unemployment gain valuable experience and training.

The Government will pay 100% of the age-relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus National Insurance and pension contributions.

Who can apply for funding?

Any organisation, big or small, can apply for funding.

Organisations creating more than 30 job placements as part of the scheme can submit their application here.

Organisations offering fewer than 30 job placements can make a bid through an intermediary, such as a local authority, trade body or Chamber of Commerce, who will then bid for 30 or more placements as a combined bid from several businesses. This is to ensure smaller businesses who only want to hire one or two “Kickstarters” don’t miss out.

Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce, Wenta and Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce are working in partnership to become an 'intermediary' for small businesses in Beds, Herts and North London to access the Kickstart Scheme. You can find out more here. Or to register your interest, click here

What types of job placements can you offer?

The job placements must be new jobs. They must not replace existing or planned job vacancies or impact the employment or existing staff or contractors.

Job roles must meet the following requirements:

  • A minimum of 25 hours per week, for 6 months
  • Pay at least the National Minimum Wage for their age group
  • Should not require participants to undertake any extensive training prior to taking on the role

What are your responsibilities as an employer?

As the employer, you have a responsibility to help any Kickstarters you bring into your company to look for long-term work, for example by offering career advice and helping with CV and interview preparations. You also need to provide them with a valuable experience that will help them develop basic skills such as time management and teamwork.

You will have to include details of how you intend to do this as part of your application.

Is it right for my business?

For employers, the Kickstart Scheme is an opportunity to take on trainees at a subsided cost. It’s also, of course, a great way to support young people in your local community.

It is, however, important to think carefully about whether you are able to offer participants a valuable experience. And as the scheme is aimed at those not engaged in employment, education or training (“NEETs”), participants are unlikely to have much work experience. So you’ll need to consider how well equipped you are to adequately support them.


Can you use the scheme more than once?

Once a job placement is created, it can be taken up by a second person once the first participant has completed their 6-month term.

Do you have to hire participants after the 6 months?

No, there is no requirement to employ participants after they’ve completed their 6-month term.

What is the National Minimum Wage by age?

The National Minimum Wage (per hour) by age is:

  • 21-24 year olds - £8.20
  • 18-20 year olds - £6.45
  • 16-17 year olds - £4.55

Can you top up a participant’s wage?

You are under no obligation to ‘to top’ up the National Minimum Wage the participant will receive from the government. However, you can if you want to.


The Kickstart Scheme is a great initiative to provide more young people with the skills and experience they need to find permanent employment. But employers can benefit too.

Now might be a great time for you to bring in a few extra pairs of hands to help you with your business activity. It may also offer a chance for some of your team members to develop their own skillset by taking on the development or management of the Kickstarter. And of course, it’s a great opportunity to support the people in your local community.

However, make sure you give it some careful consideration because it’s a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You need to ensure you have the bandwidth to be able to offer a valuable experience. But if you do, it’s sure to be a rewarding experience for both you and them.

QES Q2 2020

Topics: recruitment, unemployment, people development, GOV.UK

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