Recently I had a fantastic discussion with several young people who have been employed by Watford Chamber of Commerce, and what struck me was their passion and determination to succeed. It highlighted how the Kickstart Scheme can help to shape the lives and futures of our young people.

One of the sad realities of the pandemic is that job losses are hitting young people hardest. Workers aged under 25 are more than twice as likely to have lost their job since the start of the global pandemic. They are more likely to work in the hardest hit sectors such as shops, hotels and restaurants, so are at higher risk of redundancy.

This is why projects such as the Kickstart Scheme are so important to our economic recovery. The Government has provided more than £2 billion of funding to create high quality job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds currently living on Universal Credit.

The excellent things about this scheme is that Kickstart jobs are fully funded by Government, and employers of all sizes can apply for funding which covers 100 per cent of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage depending on the age of the participant) for 25 hours per week for a total of six months. Employers can spread the start date of the job placements up until the end of December 2021.

Further funding is available for training and support so that young people on the scheme can get a job in the future. The scheme is about so much more than just providing an income for six months, it is about teaching young people skills that they can utilise to set themselves up for a successful future. Employers from all industries and across the private, public and voluntary sectors can get involved.

I am delighted to be working with the Watford Chamber of Commerce, which is one of more than 600 Kickstart gateways that helps an employer get a grant on this project locally. More than 120,000 jobs have been created already and I encourage employers to get involved so that we see this number continue to climb and more young people are helped into the workforce.

As the Chancellor Rishi Sunak said, with £2 billion available and no limit on the number of places, it’s now easier than ever for businesses across Great Britain to take part. Join us as we harness the talents of the new generation of Kickstarters.

  • Dean Russell is Conservative MP for Watford