Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a £2bn package of support to help young people at risk of long-term unemployment to take their first steps into the world of work, or help them find their next role as a result of being made redundant – a move which I very much welcome.

As part of the ‘kickstart’ scheme – which forms part of the government’s three-point plan to protect, support and create jobs – all young people aged between 16 and 24 will have access to fully funded, six-month work placements so long as they are claiming Universal Credit and are at real risk of long-term unemployment.

Participants will work for at least 25 hours per week, and will be paid the minimum wage for a period of six months, at no cost to the employer. People can apply for the scheme from next month, and there won’t be a cap on the number of roles available. This is to encourage as many employers as possible to create new, quality jobs that will really benefit their business.

Tackling the ongoing issue of youth unemployment

According, to the Chancellor, 700,000 young people are leaving education this year – many of whom need support to take their next steps.

Under-25s are set to be one of the hardest-hit groups by the Covid-19 pandemic, with them being most at risk of being furloughed or made redundant. In fact, under-25s are 2.5 times more likely to work in a sector which was forced to close because of the pandemic.

250,000 more people under the age of 25 have also claimed unemployment benefits since March. It’s hoped that the new scheme will give young people fresh hopes for their future and help those directly impacted to get back into employment quickly.

The benefits for young people

The scheme will give people an insight into the world of work, help them make decisions on what they want to do for a career, and help them to develop their skills in the workplace prior to finding a long-term role.

It’s estimated that 350,000 16-24 year-olds will benefit from the scheme, with the hope that many will be kept on at their employer after the initial six-month stint. Several big names have already signed up – including BT and Sainsbury’s – so it will give people the chance to get their foot in the door at well-established employers as well as smaller organisations.

What other support is being offered to young people?

The government is also going to be offering 30,000 new traineeships to help reduce youth unemployment. Traineeships offer a mix of classroom-based learning to support with basic skills development (such as maths, English and CV-writing), combined with up to 90 hours of unpaid work experience.

£100bn has also been set aside to create more level 2 and level 3 courses in high-demand sectors such as engineering, construction and social care. This will support career progression for 18 and 19 year-olds in industries where roles and skills are the most sought-after – and where there are real career prospects for young people.

Funding has also been set aside to support the creation of extra apprenticeships, giving more and more young people to earn whilst they learn and gain hands-on experience in a real work environment. Places will also triple in sector-based work academies to boost universal skills.

How Employ GM can support young people

I welcome the announcement of the package of support for young people, and if you fall into the age bracket that’s eligible to receive a work placement, the Growth Company – and the Employ GM programme which it delivers - can help you find your ideal opportunity based on your interests and aspirations.

Whether you want to build on your existing skills or explore a completely new field, the National Careers Service is here for you – and with the additional funding announced by the Chancellor, the service will be able to support an additional 250,000 more people. A team of expert advisors are on-hand to talk you through the different career paths available to you, and help you find a work placement that’s well-matched to your career goals. They can also discuss other training programmes available at no additional cost to you. If you’d like to speak to an advisor, please call 0800 100 900.

As part of the Employ GM initiative, you can also access Skills Support for Growth – a programme which provides you with personalised support to help you realise your ambitions. This includes helping you find work experience, so we will work with you to help you find the right six-month placement with an employer local to you. If you have other concerns ahead of starting your placement – such as worries about your confidence, skills or health and wellbeing, your dedicated key worker can help you to overcome any barriers which you feel are holding you back.

For more information on how Employ GM can help you find a work placement, visit https://employgm.org/support-for-individuals/support-for-16-24-year-olds/