The JobStart scheme provides funding from the Department for Communities to allow employers to create new job opportunities to help young people aged 16-24 at risk of long-term unemployment to enter the job market.

The closing date for employer applications has been extended to 30 June 2024.

What do employers need to know about JobStart?

Employers in Northern Ireland 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 opportunities 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 the 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 for Communities will perform due diligence and financial checks on all employers. JobStart funding is available for employers.

For each job opportunity funding will 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
  • *Employers can offer additional hours but will have to fund the additional hours themselves

Please note: Employers will need to provide monthly payslips for each JobStart participant. Following approval of an individualised training plan, employers can avail of funding for each job opportunity to cover any support and training the young person may need. A support grant of £1000 is available for 6-month opportunities and £1500 for 9-month opportunities. The grant will be paid in two instalments (or three instalments for 9-month opportunities) once certain conditions have been met.

How employers can participate in JobStart

Employers can apply for JobStart by completing an online application form.

Apply now for JobStart

  • Employers should allow 4 to 6 weeks for their application to be considered.
  • Once an application has been approved, the Department will arrange for the opportunity to be advertised on
  • Employers will follow their own recruitment process to select the best candidate for the JobStart opportunity.

How young people can participate in JobStart

Any young person in receipt of Universal Credit, Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support or Employment and Support Allowance can participate in the JobStart scheme if they are assessed as being work ready by a Work Coach from the Department for Communities.

Where a young person is not currently claiming an eligible benefit, they should contact the JobStart & Work Experience Programme Branch in the Department for Communities on 028 90726788 to get information on how to apply for a JobStart Scheme opportunity.

How employers can promote their participation in JobStart

Employers are free to promote their involvement in the scheme including through social media and on company websites.

Additional information

  • Young people taking part in a JobStart opportunity will have the same statutory entitlements as other employees in the company in which they are employed.
  • Employers will be required to put in place the statutory employer duties for the health, safety & welfare of young people, and pay National Insurance & Pension contributions.
  • Employers must include support for young people to develop their occupational and employability skills to help them to reach their full potential.
  • Employers will commit to providing the Department for Communities with timely, up-to-date and accurate information, as required.
  • At the end of the job opportunity period, employers can consider retaining the young person(s).
  • Alternatively, the young person will finish the job opportunity, having gained occupational and employability skills to help them find alternative employment or to progress into further education or training opportunities.

The Work Experience Programme

The Department for Communities also works with employers to offer short work experience placements ranging from 2-8 weeks for 16-65-year-olds or a fixed term placement of 13 weeks for 16-24-year-olds through the Work Experience Programme.

Further Information

For further information contact the Department for Communities JobStart & Work Experience Programme Branch


Telephone: 028 90726788

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