By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan
Around 1,200 young people have secured job placements across the county through a government scheme.
Jo James, chief executive of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, said it was “tremendous” that hundreds of 16 to 24-year-olds have enrolled on the Government’s job creation scheme.
About 700 youngsters are expected to start new work over the next three to four weeks in the 13 districts. The type of jobs include marketing assistants and admin support workers.
The news comes after Kent County Council’s (KCC) Conservative cabinet was told that the number of youngsters claiming benefits rose to 14,450 in October, which marks around 10% of the county’s youth population.
This represents more than double the number of young people that sought benefits when Covid struck the UK in March, 6,895 in total. Fears have been expressed about the “worsening” situation due to last month’s lockdown.
Thanet has the highest unemployment rate in Kent at 10.1% and the highest 18-24 year old unemployment rate in the South East at 17.2%.
After the council meeting, Ms James told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “The youths are the ones that will be the hardest hit, but there has been much positive progress recently.”
In July, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a £2billion package to boost the UK economy and protect youngsters missing out on employment opportunities, such as school leavers and those who lost work in hospitality and retail.
The Government’s ‘kickstart’ scheme aims to subsidise people aged 16 to 25, who are at risk of long-term unemployment, in six-month work placements.
Pointing to a “glimmer of hope” through the initiative, Ms James added: “It is very exciting as 1,200 placements have come forward.
“We will see what happens with them on their journey as it remains a real goal to keep the economy moving in Kent.”
A multi-agency employment taskforce chaired by KCC leader Roger Gough (Con) has met regularly since October to decide what actions can be taken to halt job losses in the county, particularly in construction and hospitality.
These areas have seen a drop in output of between 43% and 65% during the pandemic between March and October, according to KCC data.
Support for Kent’s older and current employees is also being considered. It has emerged that about 37,000 residents in the county, aged 25 to 49, had been seeking benefit support in October.
Ms James added: “We try to combat youth unemployment but we must keep our attention on the growing number of employees aged 25 to 49 who are at risk of losing their jobs. They have mortgages to pay and families to feed.”