Number of young people jobless in Suffolk doubles in a year

Therese Coffey and Rishi Sunak

The Kickstart scheme was launched by Employment Secretary Dr Therese Coffey and Chancellor Rishi Sunak last year. - Credit: PA Images

The number of younger people in Suffolk claiming unemployment benefits doubled during 2020 according to new figures.

And the latest Office for National Statistics report shows that nearly 12% of all 18-24 year olds in Suffolk are not in education, employment, or training.

The number of people in that age group claiming unemployment benefits in Suffolk rose from 2,235 in March last year - when the first lockdown began - to 4,460 in December, a 99.5% rise.

Inspire Suffolk logo

Inspire Suffolk logo - Credit: Gregg Brown

Ipswich-based charity Inspire Suffolk aims to give young people the chance of a good start in life - and said the government's new Kickstart scheme did offer a glimmer of hope in what had been a grim year for jobs around the country.

The Kickstart Scheme gives money to employers to create job placements for 18 to 24-year-olds, paying them the minimum wage for six months. 

Employers can apply to be part of the scheme through the Department of Work and Pensions or get help from the Suffolk Chamber - and young people can get advice about seeking placements through Job Centres or from organisations like Inspire Suffolk which runs it Youth Employment Programme.

The charity said it was designed to open the door to the next generation because it provides funding to employers to create job placements for young people on Universal Credit.

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However Inspire Suffolk is concerned that the issues the government faced prior to the pandemic in supporting young people’s transition from education to employment have only been magnified over the last year.

And it believes the success of the Kickstart scheme is dependent on business support for the initiative.

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce is stepping up to support local businesses wanting to apply for the scheme by becoming a Kickstart gateway to support firms through the process.

Inspire Suffolk said it was committed to helping young people enter work by providing opportunities to upskill and build confidence through free education courses. The charity’s Youth Employment Service is offering Kickstart as one of the numerous progressions available to the young people they engage with.

Terry Baxter (Inspire Suffolk CEO)

Inspire Suffolk chief executive Terry Baxter. - Credit: DAVID GARRAD

Terry Baxter, CEO of Inspire Suffolk, emphasises the need to ensure young people are not forgotten on the road to recovery.

He said: “It is of vital importance that we offer young people the support they need to transition from education to the workplace. Through initiatives like the Kickstart scheme, it is my hope that local businesses see the value the next generation can bring to their organisation.

"Many of the young people we work with have faced tough circumstances but have worked hard to overcome barriers. They are exactly the type of people we want driving local business forward”.