The chancellor has committed £500m to renewing job support programmes including Kickstart and the Job Entry Targeted Support (Jets) scheme.
Rishi Sunak revealed extensions to the schemes in his speech at the Conservative party conference today, and promised more help in finding work for those whose jobs look uncertain following last week’s closure of the furlough scheme.
The Kickstart scheme, which subsidises job placements for 16-24 year olds on universal credit, has been extended by three months to March 2022. Only 76,900 Kickstart roles have been created so far out of 196,300 roles made available for young people to apply for. The government has set a target of creating 250,000 Kickstart jobs by the end of 2021.
The Jets scheme will run until September 2022. Jets helps find work for people of all ages who have been in receipt of universal credit or jobseeker’s allowance for at least 13 weeks.
A scheme which pays employers £3,000 for each apprentice they take on has also been extended until the end of January 2022, Sunak said.
Job support schemes
The full details of the schemes’ extensions will be outlined in the spending review on 27 October, it has been reported.
Sunak said: “I believe that the only sustainable route out of poverty comes from having a good job; it’s not just the pounds you have in your pockets, it’s about the sense of worth and self-confidence it gives you. So I will do whatever I can to protect people’s livelihoods and create new opportunities.”
He said the schemes have all been extended because the government “[believes] in the awesome power of opportunity and were are going to make sure that no young person in our country is left without it”.
Sunak also announced the creation of 2,000 “elite” artificial intelligence scholarships for disadvantaged young people, stating that AI could add more than £200bn to the economy each year.
“I believe the world is at the beginning of a new age of technological progress, which can bring jobs, wealth and transform lives,” he said.
Responding to the announcements Recruitment & Employment Confederation cheif executive Neil Carberry said: “It is good news that the government are going to extend some of the pandemic support schemes including Jets – this kind of targeted support is much needed for people who have been out of work for some time, and recruiters are playing their part in the scheme.
“However, the Kickstart scheme has only helped a limited number of people so far, and even with the extension it will still expire in early 2022. Government need to be thinking further ahead than that and working in collaboration with industry experts in a joint forum to solve labour market issues in both the short and longer term.”
There were a record number of vacancies this summer, as employers’ scrambled to fill positions as the economy opened up again. The shortages are putting “severe pressure” on medium-sized businesses in particular, a survey by advisory firm BDO has found.
More than a quarter of the 500 organisations polled said a lack of staff was putting pressure on their ability to operate at normal levels, and almost a fifth were increasing wages in an attempt to lure candidates.
Thirty-eight per cent said a lack of regional talent was hurting their ability to recruit.
“Brexit, global supply chain issues and the long tail of Covid-19 has created a perfect storm for UK businesses,” BDO partner Ed Dwan said.
“After navigating the challenges of the pandemic and hoping for some respite, businesses have found themselves facing more major disruption, with those across almost all sectors reporting staff shortages.
“This is an era of upheaval, and the challenges faced by the UK’s mid-tier – the engine of the UK’s economy – points to a long road ahead.”