The government has launched a £2bn scheme to help young people into work as the coronavirus pandemic continues to batter the labour market.
The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said the programme will help youngsters aged between 16 and 24 who could be “left behind” following the crisis.
Under the Kickstart scheme, which will create thousands of new roles nationwide, employers will be able to offer young people on Universal Credit state-subsidised work placements for six months.
As of July there were almost 538,000 young people aged 24 and under on Universal Credit, a rise of around 250,000 from March.
Businesses are able sign up to use the scheme from Wednesday, with the state also paying employers £1,500 to set up support and training for people on a Kickstart placement.
Mr Sunak said: “This isn’t just about kickstarting our country’s economy – it is an opportunity to kickstart the careers of thousands of young people who could otherwise be left behind as a result of the pandemic.
“The scheme will open the door to a brighter future for a new generation and ensure the UK bounces back stronger as a country.”
The government will pay 100 per cent of the National Minimum Wage dependent on age, National Insurance and pension contributions for 25 hours a week for those on the scheme.
Major employers including Tesco have signed up to offer jobs through the scheme, it said.
The scheme, which will be delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions, will initially be open until December 2021.
Therese Coffey, secretary of state for work and pensions, said: “As we launch our £2bn Kickstart programme, putting young people at the heart of our revival – we are urging businesses to get involved in this innovative scheme and take advantage of the enormous pool of potential out there.
“Young people taking part will receive on-the-job training, skills development and mentoring, as we get them on that first rung of the jobs ladder and on their way to successful careers.”
Additional reporting by Press Association