Hot topic: Pandemic interventions for employers from the UK government, part two

?In early July, Rishi Sunak announced his plan for jobs which will provide financial support to the under-25s, one of the hardest-hit demographics of the pandemic. In the so-called 'mini-budget,' the chancellor also announced financial incentives for employers to both retain staff and create new jobs in a bid to boost the UK's economic recovery

For some industries, the schemes have been a welcome helping hand in unprecedented circumstances.

However, critics are concerned that the plan overlooks other groups in need of critical support, with the incentives seen as a 'drop in the ocean' when addressing the substantial challenges of returning employees from furlough.

Josh Murray, group director of human capital at Laing O’Rourke, says:

“Construction is a sector of strategic national importance that employs more than three million people and it will play a vital role in rebuilding the UK economy. The chancellor’s update contained welcome support to the “infrastructure first” message, critical as our industry seeks to safeguard jobs.

“While we await further detail, the commitment to stimulate demand for energy efficiency improvements in buildings is welcomed, as were the kickstart, apprentice and traineeship schemes, which we will prioritise to secure jobs for younger entrants; the generation likely to suffer most from an economic downturn.

“We are grateful for the government’s clear support to the construction sector post-COVID, but with 92% of Laing O’Rourke’s staff now active, we are focused on restoring full productivity on our own two feet. We therefore won’t be accessing the new Jobs Retention Bonus but appreciate it may help businesses in our supply chain.”

Justine Campbell, managing partner for talent at EY UK&I, says:

“The chancellor’s statement has sought to address a critical issue facing many young people in the current COVID-19 environment. Employment prospects are likely to be a concern for many students, and the latest apprenticeship funding support may encourage some businesses to consider offering programmes which would help mitigate the impact of the challenging jobs market.

“An important part of the long-term bounce back of the UK economy will be rooted in the development of our young people. Apprenticeships not only provide a valuable route for young talent to enhance their skills and gain access to training, they also allow employers to nurture skills and capabilities that could diversify and strengthen their workforce.

“With an energy and enthusiasm to learn and develop in the workplace, this talent pool can often bring new innovative ideas and perspectives to a business. At EY, we are seeking to recruit 1037 students this year, of which 730 will be on our apprenticeship programmes.”

This article is the second part of the July/August 2020 hot topic. For further insights, read part one of this hot topic here.

The full piece appears in the July/August 2020 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk