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How to make the new Kickstart programme work for young people

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The new jobs programme announced by the chancellor could help tackle youth unemployment. But we need to make sure it delivers real jobs with training.

Last night the chancellor announced a new £2bn jobs programme for young people. Branded ‘Kickstart’, the programme will offer six month paid work placements for young people at risk of long-term unemployment, paid at the National Minimum Wage. Reports this morning say that government will fund the wage costs for 25 hours a week, and an administration fee for employers, for around 300,000 jobs.

The TUC has been calling for a Jobs Guarantee programme since May. We think this could help stave off the disaster of long-term unemployment for young people, giving them a real chance on a real wage. But it’s vital the programme is done right. Here’s what we need to see.

These must be good quality jobs with training built in

It’s vital that young people are offered real jobs that lead to real prospects. The Future Jobs Fund – the jobs programme for young people introduced after the financial crisis – resulted in a 27 per cent increase in the chances of the young people who took part getting a long-term job. This programme should aim to do even better.

That means there must be a guarantee that young people get access to real training – and strict checks to ensure employers are offering it.

The best way to ensure that jobs are good quality is to set up clear criteria for any employer who wants to take on a young person. Government should work with trade unions and businesses to design a basic standard contract for kickstart jobs– setting out terms and conditions, and an entitlement to on-the job training. And these young workers must have the right to get the advice and support of a union on-site, so their health, wellbeing and safety is assured.

The jobs must be additional and of real value to the community

The cash spent by government can’t be used to subsidise employers to fire workers and then re-hire young people on a Kickstart job. There needs to be strict vetting of the new job placements, to make sure these are additional jobs.

The best way to do that is through designing and delivering the jobs programme through regional recovery panels, made up of local authorities, trade unions and businesses. They should be given a role to ensure that every Kickstart placement is a genuine new job – and one that provides genuine benefit to the community – whether that’s decarbonising our economy, public service or helping build skills in vital industries.

The programme must be based on equality from the start

We know that disabled people and Black workers are more likely to face redundancy, and discrimination when it comes to finding a new job. The programme must be designed to actively work against this discrimination – with regular monitoring to make sure that everyone gets fair treatment.

Employers should top up wages to a real living wage

The government is funding minimum wage jobs. But employers should do the decent thing and top up young people’s wages to a real living wage. That’s what trade unions will be campaigning for as we work to ensure that every young person gets the opportunity of a real job with real prospects.

And the Kickstart scheme must go hand in hand with a desperately needed upgrade of our social security system to stop those who do lose their jobs spiralling into debt.

The chancellor has made a start on a plan for jobs. But there’s still a long way to go.

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