More than 500 bodies have, across England, Scotland and Wales have stepped up to help young people get into work through the government’s Kickstart Scheme.
The £2bn ($2.6bn) Kickstart Scheme provides funding to employers to create job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds, with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) was among the first to sign up.
FSB chairman Mike Cherry said: “Small businesses are embedded in local communities and disproportionately take on those who face barriers when finding work.
“The Kickstart initiative marks a crucial intervention, with young people’s job prospects now hit particularly hard by Covid-19, and small businesses under significant pressure.
“It will help small firms create thousands of good quality opportunities for young people at risk of long-term unemployment.”
Many young people have been furloughed while working in sectors, which have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The scheme, which was launched earlier this month aims to create hundreds of thousands of new fully-subsidised roles for young people.
Organisations that have signed up will help firms with the application process and support young people to help them successfully Kickstart their role and increase their chances of securing sustainable employment in the future.
Under the plans, the government will fully fund each Kickstart placement, it will contribute 100% of the age-relevant national minimum wage, national insurance and pension contributions for 25 hours a week.
Meanwhile, companies will be able to top up that wage, with the government also paying £1,500 to employers to set up support and training for people on a Kickstart placement, and to help pay for uniforms and other set up costs.
Work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey said: “I am delighted that FSB has signed up to be a national gateway – their work across the country with small business will give SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) the confidence and support to offer places through the Kickstart Scheme.
“Our Kickstart Scheme was designed with employers of all sizes in mind.
“Our growing list of gateways will make it easier for smaller employers to find their local gateways who will support their application and help provide wrap-around support for the young people who get on to the scheme.
“We are also encouraging more organisations to step forward as gateways to support this national effort and get behind the career ambitions of the next generation.”