The Kickstart Scheme: Should your business get involved?

This month, the UK Government announced details of new programme designed to create job placements for young people, who are set to play a significant role in the UK’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Named the ‘Kickstart Scheme’, it allows employers to create new six-month job placements for young people currently on Universal Credit and at risk of unemployment, with as many as half a million of 16-24 year olds claiming benefits in July 2020.

The scheme aims to help them develop skills and experience, while earning on the job, with much of the cost contributed by the Government.

Placements on the Kickstart Scheme are not apprenticeships; however, participants can be offered an apprentice role at any time during, or after, their placement.

What funding is available?

Funding is provided to cover 100 per cent of National Minimum Wage costs for 25 hours per week, plus National Insurance and enrolment contributions. If employers wish to top up this wage, they must pay it themselves – however, £1,500 per job placement is available for set-up, support and training costs.

How can employers apply for the scheme?

Applications must be for a minimum of 30 job placements, making the scheme best suited to medium sized or larger employers.

However, SMEs and small businesses unable to offer this number of placements can partner with other organisations to reach the 30 job minimum. Representatives applying on behalf of a number of employers can also apply for £300 to support administrative costs.


Although any organisation of any size can apply for funding, the job placements must reach a number of requirements;

The job placements created by the scheme must not replace existing or planned vacancies or cause existing employees or contractors to lose or reduce employment.

The roles must also be:

  • A minimum of 25 hours per week, for six months
  • Paid at least the National Minimum Wage for the relevant age group

Placements should also not require extensive training before they begin the job placement, as training is expected to form part of the role itself.

Is it right for my business?

The Kickstart Scheme welcomes all employers willing to help those on placement develop by supporting them with advice on their careers, CV, interview and further employability skills.

In practice, large and medium sized employers may have the capacity and capability to create opportunities for placements quickly and efficiently, while offering a chance to learn and earn at an established business. Small businesses willing to offer training and experience can opt into the scheme as part of a group application.

This could especially benefit those looking to hire an apprentice, which could qualify them for a further £2,000 grant for each apprentice hired under the age of 25, and £1,500 for apprentices hired over 25.

What’s next for the Kickstart Scheme?

This latest initiative for the Government comes under the ‘Plan for Jobs’, and goes some way to offer opportunities to young people who found their employment plans dashed by the coronavirus pandemic. 

However, the link between the scheme and apprenticeships is tenuous, and does not guarantee any employment after the end of the placement.

By extending this scheme to provide a secure pathway to apprenticeships and jobs for young people, this programme could provide a real chance for young people and apprentices to help rebuild the UK economy.

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