Flagship Covid jobs scheme hits 16k new starts – but could take years to reach target


A flagship Covid jobs scheme for young people has finally hit a milestone of 16,000 job starts, seven months after it was launched.

Last month cabinet minister Therese Coffey admitted there had been a “backlog” in the flagship Kickstart scheme – which at the time had only seen 5,000 job starts in six months.

When the £2bn scheme was launched last September, Ms Coffey said it aimed to create 250,000.

And today the Government said Kickstart had now seen 16,000 starts, with more than 260 new employees starting each day over the last six weeks

If the government maintains its current rate of new starts, it could take more than two and a half years for the scheme to achieve its target.

Secretary of State of Work and Pensions, Therese Coffey, said: “The Kickstart scheme is playing a vital role helping our next generation of workers get onto the jobs ladder – hundreds of young people are starting their Kickstart jobs every day and more vacancies are becoming available all the time.

“Employers like M&S are giving young people an opportunity to succeed, and I encourage more businesses to join Kickstart and be part of our national effort to build back better.”

Rishi Sunak at the start of the scheme in September
Rishi Sunak at the start of the scheme in September

Ms Coffey will today visit a branch of M&S to mark the milestone.

M&S plans to take on a total of 360 young people via the scheme, with a second Kickstart cohort scheduled to start in June.

Joining as Trainee Customer Assistants in stores across the UK, the new recruits will rotate across food halls, back of house operations, hospitality and clothing and home departments at M&S stores.

Sacha Berendji, Retail, Operations & Property Director at M&S said: “We have a long history of supporting and developing young people so it made sense for us to get involved in Kickstart.

“In partnership with The Prince’s Trust we have developed a programme for up to 360 placements that will help those involved experience all parts of our M&S stores and gain broad retail skills.”

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