Five reasons to extend Kickstart

Youth Employment Group
Monday, January 25, 2021

The government’s Kickstart jobs scheme, which offers funded placements for 16- to 24-years affected by the pandemic is set to end in December.

Employers may offer start dates up to the end of December, meaning the last cohort could finish their temporary role in February 2022.

Here, the co-chairs of the Youth Employment Group explain why the scheme should be extended:

1. Make up for lost (lockdown) time

Many employers have had no choice but to delay their placements (6-8-week delays are common). It’s logistically very challenging for them to play catch-up / cram the same number of intended placements into a reduced period. They need more time.

2. The problem won’t be fixed by December

Even in an optimistic scenario where hiring booms from the summer onwards, we know there’s never a quick fix for those at the back of the queue. Research shows how the ‘recovery years’ are not experienced by all. Recessions are longer and deeper for young people without higher qualifications. Whilst we hope youth unemployment will fall this year, ‘long-term’ youth unemployment may not fall until next year. Helping those at the back of the queue in 2022 is the best way to get value from the billions invested in Kickstart.

3. Secure its legacy

The DWP commitment to evaluate and adapt Kickstart provides a golden opportunity to develop a government response fit for future labour market crises. But continuous improvement requires time. It requires data about young people’s experience and their outcomes, which will now be delayed. If the programme can run for longer, even at a reduced scale, the learning gained will be transformational when the next crisis comes. This can secure the legacy of Kickstart.

4. Three is the magic number

When Kickstart was first announced, employers saw the opportunity to plan for three six-month cohorts, spanning 18 months. If they were quick, it was possible. Lockdown now makes this very unlikely. An extension would bring a three-cohort plan back to the table and reward the efforts the government has already made to engage employers.

5. A route to apprenticeships

Several employers are commencing Kickstart placements in March 2021 with the aim of taking these young people into their September apprenticeship intake.  It’s a good idea.  Extending Kickstart would enable this to happen twice.  It could help turn the tide on the lack of apprenticeships going to NEET young people.  And for those not recruited to apprenticeships, T Levels could be the answer.

The co-chairs of the Youth Employment Group are: Samantha Windett (Director of Policy, Impetus), Tony Wilson (Director, Institute for Employment Studies), Richard Rigby (Head of Policy and Public Affairs, The Prince’s Trust), Laura-Jane Rawlings (Chief Executive Officer, Youth Employment UK), Anna Smee (Chief Executive Officer, Youth Futures Foundation)

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