Our plan for jobs is working. With the UK economy rebounding strongly, the number of payrolled employees is now above pre-pandemic levels and vacancies are at record levels. Our unprecedented £407 billion support package protected jobs and livelihoods through the worst of the pandemic and the formidable force of our jabs and jobs armies means we are building back better—helping people move into decent, well-paid jobs and get the skills they need to succeed.
We are investing a further £500 million to expand the plan for jobs to build on its successes to help people of all ages fulfil their potential, in particular younger and older jobseekers and those on low incomes.
We are extending our kickstart scheme until the end of March 2022, which has so far helped over 85,000 young people take a confident first step in their careers. This will allow thousands more young people to benefit and enable employers a further opportunity to apply for funding for roles, especially those who were unable to take on young people while covid restrictions were in place. New applications for roles will be accepted until 17 December 2021, though employers will be expected to move quickly to fill their approved roles.
We are extending our youth offer to 2025. This will ensure that young people can continue to benefit from intensive work coach support through the youth employment programme, specialised youth employability coaches and over 135 youth hubs, which are already providing support to thousands of young people across England, Scotland and Wales. We are also expanding eligibility, with 16 and 17-year-olds able to join alongside 18 to 24-year-olds claiming universal credit and searching for work.
For older workers, who often face specific challenges remaining in and returning to work, we will be funding a new support package. This will ensure they receive more intensive, tailored support during their work search journey, as well as information and guidance on later life planning, helping them make informed choices and supporting them to plan their career and stay in, or return to work.
And for low-paid workers, from April 2022, we will bolster our work coach support for people on universal credit to help them boost their earnings through a focus on career progression advice, with jobcentre specialists working with local employers to identify opportunities for people to progress in work.
We are also extending JETS—our job entry targeted support scheme—to September 2022, which has so far supported over 175,000 people across the UK by providing light-touch employment support for six months within the first year of unemployment. And our job finding support (JFS) scheme will continue to prioritise support for those coming off furlough through online, tailored, one-to-one support for those newly unemployed and claiming universal credit, including recruitment advice from a skilled adviser, support with CVs, and mock interviews.
This expansion of our plan for jobs and jobcentre network is an example of our commitment to invest in skills and jobs, helping people to move into well-paid work, progress, earn more and increase financial resilience —boosting pay, prospects and prosperity.