The government’s move to ward off mounting fears of a surge in youth unemployment by increasing support for apprenticeships and funding six-month job placements for 18- to 24-year-olds has been welcomed by the marketing industry.
The chancellor Rishi Sunak announced what he said was a three-point strategy to support, protect and retain jobs amid evidence that the fallout from the coronavirus lockdown has hit vulnerable young workers the hardest.
Part of that strategy is £2,000 in funding for every apprentice a business hires aged between 16 and 24, and £1,500 for every apprentice aged 25 and over.
The marketing industry has been relatively slow to see the potential in apprenticeships, with just 0.7% of marketers who took Marketing Week’s 2020 Career and Salary Survey having studied for one.
It was only in December that the Institute for Apprenticeships approved two new marketing apprenticeships, taking the provision all the way from Level 3 marketing assistant (equivalent to an A Level qualification) through to Level 7 (equivalent to a Master’s degree).
They had been moving up the agenda in marketing departments, with brands including BT, British Airways and Clarks working with the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) on developing apprenticeship standards. However, there were concerns that apprenticeships might fall back as businesses hit by Covid-19 froze hiring and looked for other ways to cut costs.
The Advertising Association has welcomed the support: “The chancellor’s clear commitment to supporting young people enter and remain in the world of work through training and apprenticeships reflects the advertising industry’s own strongly held values of diversity and inclusion and we are determined to do all we can to ensure that our younger colleagues feel supported and valued.
“We hope that all these measures will help the parts of our sector affected by the outbreak and we stand ready to work with government in aiding our country’s economic resurgence.”
Daryl Fielding, CEO of The Marketing Academy Foundation, has said the organisation will be making use of the apprenticeship incentive, but has questioned whether the support goes far enough given the cost of a full salary.
Of more interest, she believes, is the Kickstart scheme under which businesses are able to offer six-month work placements for young people aged between 16 and 24 who are claiming universal credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. For those people, the government will fund each “kickstarter” job, covering 100% of the national minimum wage for 25 hours a week and with employers able to up wages to full-time or higher hourly wages.
Fielding says: “Individuals from more challenging backgrounds will be hit hardest as we emerge from the crisis. We are particularly excited by the Kickstart initiative, although the extra contribution for apprenticeships, while welcome, is still a relatively small incentive versus a full salary for the marketing roles we generally offer. We will create new opportunities leveraging both incentives.”
The government has, however, ruled out extending the furlough scheme that has underwritten the pay of almost 9.5 million UK workers during the coronavirus lockdown. Instead, the focus is on getting people into work by protecting jobs that already exist by boosting industries such as hospitality, and creating new jobs by bringing forward capital expenditure plans for infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and roads.
Elsewhere in the summer statement, Sunak looked to boost consumer spending and help the tourism and hospitality industry with an ‘Eat out to help out’ scheme that offers diners 50% off the price of their meals up to £10 on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August. VAT on these businesses is also being reduced from 20% to 5% for the next six months.
The government is also hoping to get the housing marketing moving with a cut to stamp duty that means it will only be paid on property worth more than £500,000. That means nine out of 10 purchasers will not pay the tax.