Sunak offers £500m for older workers to plug gaps in small business workforce

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is to announce measures to bolster the workforce, such as helping older people get into work

Rishi Sunak will be announcing a £500m package to help UK-based people, including those who are older, find jobs.

Workers on the lowest wages will also be helped to helped to progress in their careers, while existing schemes such as Kickstart will be extended by three months to March 2022. The scheme, launched in September last year, was allocated £2bn in funding to create 250,000 jobs by the end of 2021. However, the latest government figures reveal that only 76,900 have started Kickstart roles, with 196,300 roles in total for young people to apply for.  

Sunak will also announce an extension of the Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) scheme to help long-term unemployed people on Universal Credit until September 2022.

Another scheme paying employers £3,000 for every apprentice they take on will be extended by four months until the end of January.

There will also be more work coaches and careers, along with co-ordination with local employers.  

Details will be confirmed in the chancellor’s spending review on October 27.    

Speaking at the beginning of Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Sunak said he has a plan to bolster the workforce.

This is all an expansion of the his Plan for Jobs which was launched amid the pandemic.  

The package will help in different ways. Those coming off the furlough scheme will get “tailored one-on-one support” and “recruitment advice from a skilled advisor” while those over 50 will get ” guidance on later life planning” and “more intensive detailed support”.

Matthew Fell, the CBI chief policy director, said: “With record vacancies and widespread labour shortages, this package’s success will be measured by its ability to get people back into work.”

It was welcomed by others. “With all eyes fixed on how unemployment figures may change now the furlough scheme has closed, this investment in jobs from the government is a positive step,” said James McLeod, VP EMEA at Faethm AI.

“This is a critical juncture for the UK, and businesses need to be incentivised to retain furloughed staff, retrain them in essential digital skills and competencies and redeploy them in more in-demand roles where they can offer longer-term benefits and growth opportunities.”

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.

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1 Comment

  1. I have long maintained that using older retired workers in a part-time basis would help the country get through these tough times. How this proposed scheme will work remains to be seen, but there are many older people who would be happy to do some kind of work one or two days per week if they got the chance. Ageism is a huge problem in this country so anything they can do to force employers to utilise this huge workforce needs to be considered.

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