Kickstart or Apprenticeship Incentives: Which Funding is Right for Your Business?

Written on: 25 November 2020

Written by: Frances Hardcastle


[Employers, Apprenticeship Funding]

The Kickstart Scheme and extra apprenticeship funding incentives were announced on the same day as part of the UK Chancellor's Plan for Jobs. For businesses reacting to the Coronavirus pandemic, these schemes offer financial support alongside the opportunity to create jobs for young people.

The main difference between Kickstart and an apprenticeship is that Kickstart is a short-term scheme focused on general employability, while apprenticeships are longer term and centred around specialist technical skills.

In this blog, we'll go through each scheme in detail. We'll cover what each fund can offer employers, who is eligible for funding, and what the limitations might be.

What is the Kickstart Scheme?

The Kickstart Scheme is a short-term wage subsidy fund for employers. It was designed to help create job placements for 16 to 24 year olds who are at risk of long term unemployment. The Kickstart Scheme funding covers 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage, at 25 hours a week for a total of 6 months.

Employers offering Kickstart placements will work alongside their local Job Centre, where a Work Coach will identify suitable candidates. To be hired on the Kickstart Scheme, candidates must be 16-24, be ready for work, and be claiming Universal Credit.

To be eligible for funding from the Kickstart Scheme, your application has to offer a minimum of 30 job placements. If you're running a small business, you would need to join forces with other organisations - known as a Kickstart Gateway - to meet this threshold.

Kickstart Placements must be for new jobs - they can't replace current vacancies or cause any employees to lose their existing roles or hours.

What is the Apprenticeship Incentive Funding?

Any employer who hires a new apprentice can claim funding as an incentive for creating training opportunities. The grant varies by the age of your new apprentice and is available until 31st March 2021.

Employers taking on a new apprentice can claim:

  • £3000 for 16-18 year olds
  • £2000 for those aged 19 to 24
  • £1500 for over 25s.

Related blog: How can new Apprenticeship Funding benefit the digital and IT industries?

How can employers use each fund?

The Kickstart Scheme and Apprenticeship Funding are both designed to create jobs and cut youth unemployment. However, each scheme works in a different way.

Over 6 months, Kickstart provides young people with relevant experience to help them enter the world of work. Throughout the placement, young people develop new skills and get support from their employer to find long-term work.

The Government has pitched Kickstart as a way for employers to join "the national effort to support young people into employment." This scheme can be a great way for an organisation to give back to their community during a challenging time.

By contrast, an apprenticeship is a 15 to 18 month commitment. An apprentice studies for a qualification whilst working full time. Apprenticeships are linked to a specific job role, allowing learners to gain experience whilst developing specialist skills.

For employers, apprenticeships are most effective when they are used to expand teams, address a specific skills gap, or create a robust talent pipeline for their future business needs.

An apprenticeship is the first step towards a lifelong career in a particular field. Many apprentices continue working full-time with their employer after they achieve their qualification. It's a scheme with lasting benefits for both the apprentice and the employer who invests in them.

Skills Development: Kickstart vs Apprenticeships

Both apprenticeships and the Kickstart Scheme contain some elements of skills training. With Kickstart, the onus is on the employer to lead on this skills training, whereas with an apprenticeship you would be working in partnership with your chosen training provider.

An apprenticeship includes in-depth technical training provided by an external organisation - for example, a local college or a specialist training provider like Baltic Apprenticeships.

Apprenticeship training leads to a specific qualification; at Baltic, we offer Level 3 and Level 4 qualifications in data, digital marketing, software development and IT support. This external training is then supplemented by mentoring in the workplace, and other training activity relevant to the role - just like with any new employee.

With Kickstart, placements must be for roles that initially only need basic training. However, there is an expectation for Kickstart employers to help trainees become more employable. This can include helping with CVs, interview preparation and building workplace skills. There is a small fund available for training and set up costs for each Kickstart placement, worth around £1500. If you're using a Kickstart Gateway to create your placements, they may manage this funding and relevant skills support for you.

Can these two schemes work together?

Kickstart and Apprenticeship Incentive funding are two separate schemes and cannot be used in combination to fund the same employee at the same time. However, it is possible to hire a young person originally employed on the Kickstart Scheme and progress them onto an apprenticeship, creating a longer term employment opportunity. The funding guidelines were updated to allow employers to switch from Kickstart to claim the Apprenticeship incentive payment instead, if the apprentice was enrolled on a programme between 15th October 2020 and 31st March 2021.

Find out more

To find out more about the Kickstart Scheme, you can download a detailed guide via

To learn more about apprenticeship, you can browse our programmes, access our funding guide, or discuss your skills development strategy with one of our team.

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