Following the previous success of the JobStart Scheme, the Department for Communities is relaunching the Scheme to create further high-quality job opportunities for young people who are at risk of long term unemployment. The Scheme will be open for applications from Wednesday 14 June 2023. This page includes details of how the Scheme will operate and advice on how to complete the application form.

How JobStart works

The JobStart Scheme provides funding from the Department of Communities to allow you to create a new job opportunity to help young people aged 16 to 24 at risk of long term unemployment to enter the job market.

You can receive 100% government funding to create 6-month job opportunities for 16-24 year olds who are not in employment (or 9-months for those who meet certain criteria).

Young people participating in JobStart will be supported through their job opportunity by Work Coaches in the Department for Communities.

Employer criteria to participate in JobStart

  • employers must be based in Northern Ireland
  • employers of all sizes can participate in the Scheme
  • employers in all sectors can participate (including the voluntary and community sector)
  • employers can offer one job or multiple jobs to participate in JobStart (depending on number of staff currently in permanent employment)
  • JobStart opportunities must not replace existing or planned vacancies or cause existing employees, apprentices or contractors to lose or reduce their employment.
  • jobs offered must provide a 6-month job opportunity, with a possible extension to 9- months for those who meet certain criteria
  • job opportunities must offer at least 25 hours of employment per week
  • jobs offered must pay at least the National Minimum Wage (for the participant’s age group) through PAYE

Please note: the Department will perform due diligence and financial checks on all employers.

What you will get

For each job opportunity you will receive funding to cover:

  • 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours of work per week*
  • the associated employer National Insurance contributions
  • employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions

*You can offer additional hours but you will have to fund the additional hours yourself.

Please note: You will need to provide monthly payslips for each JobStart participant.

Following approval of an individualised training plan you can avail of a support grant for each job opportunity to cover any support and training the young person may need, such as uniforms, health and safety training, inductions, accredited training and any other costs to the company to support the young person settle into employment.

The support grant will provide you with funding of £1000 for 6-month opportunities and £1500 for 9-month opportunities. You will be paid the grant in two instalments (or three instalments for 9-month opportunities) once you have met certain conditions.

For each job opportunity you must help the young person become more employable.

This could include:

  • training to develop occupational related skills
  • training to develop employability skills, such as team work, organisation and communications as part of the role
  • support to update their CV and interview preparation
  • support to look for long-term work

You can work with other organisations to provide employability support on your behalf.

What you need to provide during the application

You will need:

  • your Companies House reference number, Charity Commission for Northern Ireland number, if you have one
  • your organisation address and contact details
  • details of the JobStart Scheme job opportunities and their location
  •  supporting information to show that the job opportunities meet the JobStart Scheme criteria
  • information about the support you can give to develop the skills of young people

How you will get the funding

The Department will use information from HMRC to check that the young person is still employed. The funding to pay the young person’s salary will be paid monthly in arrears when we know they are:

  • enrolled on your payroll
  • being paid through Pay As You Earn (PAYE)

You can pay a higher wage and employ the young person for more than 25 hours but the Department’s funding will not cover this.

How employers can participate in JobStart

  • you can apply for JobStart by completing an online application form(external link opens in a new window / tab)
  • you should allow 4 to 6 weeks for your application to be considered and processed.
  • if your application has been approved, the Department will arrange for the opportunity to be advertised on JobApplyni.
  • you will follow your own recruitment process to select the best candidate for the JobStart opportunity.

Please note: JobStart opportunities are only available for young people aged 16 to 24 who are referred to you by Department for Communities (DfC).

If your application is successful:

  1. staff in the Department will match suitable young people to your job opportunities.
  2. the young people will apply directly to you.
  3. you will then carry out normal company recruitment and selection procedures to identify the candidate best suited to your role.
  4. you will notify the Department for Communities JobStart team of your preferred candidate(s).

Funding will only be provided if a young person is hired using the JobStart Scheme process as outlined in this guide.

How to apply

You can Apply online(external link opens in a new window / tab) and a step by step guide through the application forms is available.

After you have applied

We will aim to inform you of the decision on your application within 4 weeks. You may be able to apply again if your application is not successful.

You can make another application for additional funding while you wait on the response for an existing application.

The job opportunities do not exist until the application has been approved and you have signed the funding agreement.

Terms and conditions

The JobStart Scheme has been designed to support young people, aged 16 to 24 who are at risk of long term unemployment, move into the labour market. The terms and conditions for funding from the JobStart Scheme are outlined at the link below.

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