UK Tech Companies Lead Hiring Comeback Targeting Young People

The UK Tech sector is driving growth in youth employment with 1 in 6 openings in the digital tech sector suitable for entry-level jobseekers, according to job search engine Adzuna.

Young people can get into the tech sector through multiple pathways from entry-level roles targeting 16 to 24 year olds, through apprenticeships, graduate schemes and internships. Adzuna has identified 20,302 advertised vacancies that are particularly suitable for young people, including the Government’s Kickstart Scheme, which is aimed at getting young people who are currently receiving universal credit a position.

Kickstart is gaining traction in the tech sector as the entire digital tech industry sees hiring surge past pre-pandemic levels, leading the UK’s white collar hiring recovery. There are 122,446 advertised vacancies currently available for IT-related roles, 10% more than this time last year (111,192), representing the highest online job ad count since the start of 2020. IT-related vacancies now account for 1 in 7 UK job openings. Data shows:

  • Tech sector leads hiring recovery: over 122,000 advertised IT vacancies available accounting for 1 in 7 UK jobs, surpassing pre-pandemic levels
  • 1 in 6 UK tech vacancies target young people, equal to 20,000+ job openings
  • Over 60% of leading UK tech companies plan to offer Kickstart placements in 2021
  • Established players like TalkTalk and Brainlabs, as well as innovative startups including Bulb and Allplants are using the Kickstart scheme

Details of the growing rate of tech vacancies and roles for young people are published as the Department for Work and Pensions and Adzuna host a digital roundtable on 15th March to encourage more tech companies to use the Kickstart Scheme to support more young people to get an entry into the companies that are providing the jobs of the future.

Ministers, Tech companies, investors and other ecosystem participants will be brought together to learn, share and collaborate on the opportunities presented by the Kickstart Scheme, both for established tech companies and startups.


Kickstarting Lasting Opportunities

The tech sector is providing promising career opportunities for young people in a challenging employment landscape that has hit young people harder than other age groups. Data from the ONS shows youth unemployment sitting at 14.4% between October-December 2020, with 284,000 fewer 16-24 year olds in employment than in January-March 2020, the quarter before the pandemic. Meanwhile, Adzuna data reveals advertised graduate vacancies are 52% lower than this time last year with 7,104 openings available, down from 14,938. Overall apprenticeship openings have also slipped 29% year-on-year to 20,794.

The Kickstart Scheme is critical in reversing this trend by creating opportunities for 16-24 year olds at risk of long term unemployment, and forms part of the Government’s Plan for Jobs. The scheme runs until December 2021 for applications and aims to create hundreds of thousands of openings for young people. Companies can apply for funding to cover wages and National Insurance contributions, whilst further funding is available for training and support.

Data from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reveals almost 150,000 Kickstart roles have already been approved. There are currently over 900 gateways and over 560 direct employers, with many more applying through gateways, signing up to the scheme. The roles have been spread across sectors and regions.

Tech companies that are already signed up to the scheme include telecoms giant TalkTalk and digital marketing agency Brainlabs. Innovative startups including Bulb, Olio and Allplants have all hired young people through the scheme.

The Next Generation of Talent

A survey of 50 leading UK Tech companies revealed 63% plan to use the Kickstart Scheme in 2021 with a view to creating more job opportunities for young people. Of these companies, 68% anticipate hiring between 1 and 10 kickstarters, apprentices or interns in 2021, and 5% anticipate hiring between 11 and 20.

Almost half of the companies questioned (48%) said that the Kickstart Scheme was attractive ‘to help develop the next generation of tech talent’, while 58% said ‘supporting young people into work’ was a reason for using the scheme.

As a result, the Kickstart Scheme will be integral in helping to close the UK digital skills gap. The UK digital skills gap is predicted to cost the UK economy £6.8 billion per year whilst a 2018 Accenture report predicted  the UK could forfeit as much as £141 billion in GDP growth over the next 10 years. Research by Microsoft and Goldsmiths University London in 2020 warned that this gap could hamper recovery, with business leaders citing the lack of budget for reskilling and training courses as some of the major barriers to their business growth.

Kickstart’s on-the-ground training for young people will help skill up a new generation of talent as well as contribute to the UK’s economic recovery in the long term.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey comments: “Surging sectors like tech are bringing fresh opportunity and hope for our young jobseekers. Through the Kickstart Scheme, apprenticeships and traineeships, these companies are helping bring our Plan for Jobs to life, boosting the long-term job prospects of a generation that is capable of so much as we build back better.”

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, comments: “Tech companies are a leading light in the UK economy and are already playing an important part in the hiring recovery. It’s critical to ensure these opportunities flow down to our young people, particularly those at risk of long-term unemployment. Getting involved with Kickstart is also a great chance for the tech sector to develop the next generation of talent.”

Tony Wilson, director of the Institute for Employment Studies, comments: “This is the toughest jobs market that we have faced in a generation, with young people particularly hard hit. Overall three fifths of the total fall in employment has been among those aged under 25, despite them only accounting for around a tenth of all of those in work. There are also worrying signs of rising long-term youth unemployment, which is up by a third in the last year alone. The Kickstart scheme is a great opportunity for firms to help to do something about this, by creating new jobs for young people at risk of long-term unemployment.”

Oliver Beach, UK MD at Kickstart gateway provider Jolt, comments: “Kickstart is changing the lives of young people who’ve been severely impacted by the pandemic, giving them vital employability skills and experience whilst also improving diversity in the tech sector: 59% of Jolt’s Kickstarters identify as female and 63% come from a BAME background. Now is the time to invest in the next generation of talent, prepare them for the jobs of the future, and help the UK retain its position as one of the best places in the world for innovation.”

Case Study: Bulb

Bulb is the fastest-growing company in Europe, providing green energy to 1.7 million members across the UK, France, Spain and the US. It’s taking on 30 Kickstarters this year, who’ll work in customer experience and operations roles.

Tom Fraine, Chief People Officer at Bulb, comments: “We’re creating highly skilled green tech jobs and are hiring brilliant people to reimagine the future UK energy industry. Our Kickstarters are learning fast and are already making an impact. Not only will they help provide our members with excellent service and learn all about green technology, they’ll also experience working at the fastest-growing company in Europe, starting a new job from home and working with a diverse team of brilliant people.”