Kickstart has got off to a flying start and I am delighted to inform the House that to date 120,000 kickstart jobs have been approved and 2,000 young people have already started. Around 10,000 jobs are available to young people now and I am expecting a further 33,000 or so to be placed fairly soon while we work with employers to finalise the detail of the job offer. We recognise that young people have been greatly impacted by the pandemic, which is why kickstart is such a pivotal part of our plan for jobs to help them secure a stable footing on the career ladder.[Official Report, 4 February 2021, Vol. 688, c. 7MC.]
Kickstart is a fantastic programme that has created 120,000 opportunities that will benefit young people in Heywood and Middleton and around the country, but of course the core jobcentre offering will be incredibly important as we move to recovery. What measures are being taken to ensure that that is available to people of all ages around the country?
My hon. Friend is right. While kickstart is the flagship of our plan for jobs, we are well on track to recruit the extra 13,500 work coaches. Throughout the pandemic and across the country, work coaches have continued to provide support directly and digitally. Helping people to get ready to get back into work is a top priority and that is why other parts of the plan for jobs, including stepping up the number of places on sector-based work academy programmes, boosting job entry targeted support and launching job funding support nationally this month, are how we are helping everybody to try to get back into work.
Today, the DWP announced that more than 120,000 kickstart jobs had been created, but the Secretary of State has said that 10,000 placements are available now, and the Financial Times has reported that it is because of the Secretary of State’s delays that the other 33,000 have not yet come on stream. How on earth can it be that fewer than 2,000 young people have started placements to date? This scheme was announced six months ago and over half a million young people are out of work. Is it not the Secretary of State who needs to move up a gear so that we can secure our economy and get our young people into the jobs that they need?
The hon. Lady is right to ask why only 2,000 people have started. We have had a record number of applications and we have actually created more job placements than the future jobs fund ever achieved. We are trying to turn that into job starts. There are certain things going on where we are trying to roll out those jobs around the country, but I can assure her that this pipeline of jobs, which will take us right through to the end of the year as we are taking on more, is there to try to ensure that we find people the right sort of kickstarter role. We are also making sure that, as well as having covid-secure arrangements, the training wraparound support is high-quality.