The Kickstart scheme will help some young people find employment; however, it has been criticised for not lasting long enough and not really incentivising companies to keep on apprentices. Plus, there is a looming jobs crisis and we cannot rely on retail and hospitality to drive the jobs recovery as it did in the years after the previous recession.
The Upstart scheme could provide start-up grants and support for people made unemployed due to Covid-19 and all 16-24-year-olds. This would provide an alternative route out of unemployment to Kickstart, and it would offer an opportunity to the long-term unemployed and the class of 2020 (and 2021) of young people struggling to find employment in a tough jobs market.
The Upstart scheme
The Kickstart scheme already provides job placements for 16-24-year-olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment. This could complement this scheme for entrepreneurial young people or unemployed people who need a helping hand to start a business.
The lack of role models and mentors have been identified as key issues in successful entrepreneurial ecosystems, especially for underrepresented groups such as women and BAME, in addition to deprived areas, especially in towns and villages beyond big cities. Addressing this would not only help increase start-ups but also make innovation more inclusive. For all applicants, a mentor should be assigned to them so they can run ideas past them, ask for advice and receive guidance about next steps such as seed funding. A recruitment scheme would need to be run, which could be done a volunteer basis. There should be no shortage of willing volunteers, including people from local/regional government; Growth Hubs; universities; entrepreneurs; senior business leaders; business organisations; incubators; angel investors; banks.
Pre-seed funding grants could be offered to get the idea off the ground. This could be tiered to encourage more businesses in the sectors we would like to see growth in a post-Covid economy; for example, health & wellbeing and net-zero:
• Business idea – £10,000 grant
• Business idea in relation to health & wellbeing or net-zero – £15,000 grant