Even before the Covid-19 pandemic threw much of the UK’s economy into turmoil there had been significant efforts to encourage employers to invest more in training their staff and on employing young people who may be looking for work. And while the economy has some way to go to return to pre-pandemic levels, the government is clearly hoping for a quick, V-shaped recovery and that training-led work opportunities will lead the way.
Last summer, the government announced a major new jobs plan, the centrepiece of which is Kickstart: a £2 billion fund to ‘Create hundreds of thousands of high-quality 6-month work placements aimed at those aged 16-24 who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment’. Funding available for each job will cover 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions.
Beyond that, the government has pledged to support the creation of more traineeships, with a further £111 million made available in England; enough, the government says, to triple participation in traineeships. For the first time, employers who provide trainees with work experience will receive government funding at a rate of £1,000 per trainee.
The third major part of the plan was a boost for new incentives for apprentices. Under the Plan, the government has promised a new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, from 1st August 2020 to 31st January 2021.
These payments will be in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the government already provides for new 16-18-year-old apprentices, and those aged under-25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan – where that applies.
In addition to these, an extra £17m of funding will triple the number of sector-based work academy placements in England, while the Expanded Youth Offer will see an expansion of the ‘intensive support offered by DWP in Great Britain to young job seekers, to include all those aged 18-24 in the Intensive Work Search group in Universal Credit’
So what is the advice to employers unsure of how to take advantage of any of these new measures?
The key thing is to take a long–term view: stick to your plan and make sure you understand your business’s needs: that has to be the fundamental basis for engaging in these schemes.
Then, think about the skills gaps you currently have; what are the ones that are likely to develop in the future; and how can these schemes and incentives fit within those plans? Then it can become a benefit to get the extra money – and think about how to get real benefit from that.
Finally, think creatively: Could you employ a key mentor, for instance, to strengthen your existing team? Adopting that type of approach allows you to look through the lens of what the business needs, and how can these schemes help me address that to help the business succeed and grow.
Paul Beare Ltd is one of the leading accountancy practices focusing on helping overseas businesses set up in the UK and in particular managing the effective recruitment and payment of staff of all kinds. So, if you’re in need of advice or support, we’re right here for all your needs, and you can contact us for help in a number of areas, from tax and payroll to accounting and banking.