Since lockdown began on 23rd March, Sport 4 Life UK (S4L) has been reaching out to and engaging with over 200 NEET (not in employment, education or training) young people, supporting them to improve technical and employability skills in preparation for when the country comes out of lockdown, so they are equipped to positively rebuild their lives and progress into sustained employment.

In a recent survey carried out by S4L, 40% (20) of respondents said they were worried about their future prospects because of the lockdown, citing concerns over the lack of employment opportunities.

On Wednesday 8th July 2020, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a package of support that addresses these concerns. The package offers hope and prospects to young people and those working with them. Included in the announcements is a doubling of the number of work coaches to 27,000 by March 2021 and approximately 324,000 new jobs. The ‘KickStart’ scheme is a job creation scheme that will provide high quality, 6-month work placements from Autumn this year. Funding available for each job will cover 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer National Insurance Contributions and Employer Minimum Automatic Enrolment contributions. The scheme will be focused on supporting young people who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long term unemployment.

S4L hopes that employers will take advantage of this scheme by creating worthwhile roles and employing young people who have much to offer. It is also important that employers stick with young people once the funding period expires to ensure that the employment is meaningful and impactful.

Whilst this package of support is hugely positive for the nearly 500,000 unemployed young people, S4L is concerned about young people in the 25 to 29 age bracket. 22% (130) of jobseekers who S4L has worked with in the last 12 months were in this cohort. These young people have been as detrimentally affected by the lockdown as their younger peers and deserve the equivalent opportunities and support.

S4L is also concerned about young people from low socio-economic backgrounds who may face real barriers accessing these opportunities. These are often the young people who get left behind. It’s the reason why the organisation exists – to support young people especially those who are most disadvantaged to prepare for, and move into, sustained work.

The announcement from the chancellor is just the beginning. The hard work begins now to ensure our young people can move into sustained employment and thrive.