In a bid to help those left out of work as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the government has introduced a £238 million employment programme.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the unemployment rate has been steadily climbing as businesses struggle to make ends meet. Local restrictions have reduced the number of potential earning hours as well as customer footfall, making it difficult for companies to remain profitable while continuing to pay employees full-time. As a result, hundreds of thousands of workers have been let go, with millions more at risk of losing their job once support from the coronavirus furlough scheme winds down.
The newly introduced Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) is expected to boost the prospects of some people pushed out of work as a result of the pandemic. Under the scheme, experienced career coaches will be hired to offer recruitment advice, interview training, and vocational skills training, among other services, that will help job seekers remain competitive.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said that the JETS scheme would give people "the helping hand they need" to utilise their skills more effectively in various growing industries such as construction and care. She added, "This scheme will help those left out of work as a result of Covid-19, and is one strand of our wider Plan for Jobs which will also support young people on to the jobs ladder through Kickstart, offer the training needed to pivot into new roles through our Sector Based Work Academy Programme and prepare people for getting back into work."
The Department for Work and Pensions has committed to doubling the number of coaches who will help deliver the new scheme, bringing it up to around 27,000.
While trade and employment associations have welcomed the added support that the JETS scheme will provide, some fear it is not enough to stem the tidal wave of unemployment expected over the coming months. Critics of the government have vocalised this, saying that the scheme is "too little too late”, and “offers very little new support”.
Many have urged the government to reconsider extending its popular furlough scheme, which has sustained the livelihoods of millions of employees over the past few months. The furlough scheme is due to be replaced with another support initiative known as the Job Support Scheme, which will partially support employers with the payment of wages. However, the support offered under this scheme is far less generous than its predecessor, making it less useful for businesses who are still trying to regain pre-pandemic levels of business.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak previously said that the government would be unable to protect every job under the crisis. However, he reiterated that his key priority would be to extend support to as many people as possible, providing them with opportunities to develop new skills.