The Kickstart Scheme aims to create jobs for thousands of young people. It was announced as part of the Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Summer Statement in 2020. It is a £2bn programme designed to fund 6 month work placements for 16 – 24-year olds who receive universal credit or are at risk of long-term unemployment.

What does the Kickstart Scheme cover? 

  • 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage (or National Living Wage depending on the age of the applicant) for 25 hours a week for a total of six months.
  • Associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions.
  • There is also £1,500 per job placement available for setup costs, support and training.
  • Funding is available following a successful application process.
  • Employers can spread the start date of the job placements up until the end of December 2021.

The scheme is not an apprenticeship. Participants may move on to an apprenticeship at any time during, or after their job placement. It is available in England, Scotland and Wales.

Updated guidance

There is now no minimum number of jobs employers can apply for, which makes it easier for small to medium sized businesses to access the scheme. Previously, it was a minimum of 30 roles.


  • Visit the Government website to find out about the scheme.
  • Employers can apply direct for the scheme or via an approved gateway organisation.
  • Once the application is accepted it will be sent to a local JobCentre where a Work Coach will select a number of suitable candidates who are at risk of long-term unemployment and who are ready for work.
  • Interviews are conducted by employers themselves who will also offer the jobs.

Factors to be aware of

  • Employers who take part will need to provide training and support for people to find a permanent job. The aim of the scheme is to help improve job prospects and the role will need to reflect this.
  • Employers will need to prove that these are new roles. These should not be replacing any existing jobs or planned vacancies. They must also not cause existing employees / contractors to lose their jobs.
  • Consider whether this is a short-term opportunity or whether there is the potential it to become longer-term. Put development plans in place to reflect this.
  • Roles must be a minimum of 25 hours per week for six months.
  • Applicants should not be required to undertake extensive training before they start the placement.
  • Employees should be paid at least the National Minimum Wage for their age group.
  • Each application should include how you will help the participants to develop their skills and experience, including:
    • support to look for long-term work, including career advice and setting goals
    • support with CV and interview preparations
    • supporting the participant with basic skills, such as attendance, timekeeping and teamwork.
  • Once a job placement is created, it can be taken up by a second person once the first successful applicant has completed their 6-month term.
  • Be sure to get your employment contracts and HR documentation in order to protect your business.

What other funding is available for businesses taking on staff?

The chancellor also announced £1.1bn in funding for training and apprentices. This includes:

  • Extra £2,000 for businesses hiring an apprentice under the age of 25 (on top of an existing £1,000 already available).
  • £1,500 for apprentices over the age of 25, which will be available from August until January 2021. See the gov website for more detail.

How to apply 

Visit the Government Kickstart Scheme pages. 

Once submitted, applications will go to a panel for consideration and to determine whether the criteria has been met. If successful, you will receive an agreement detailing what you have agreed to provide and how much funding you will receive.

You will need to provide job descriptions for each of the placements specified in the application. This includes what the candidates need to do to apply for the placement. You will be contacted by the young people who have been matched with the placement.

You may also want to read Tips for making a successful application.