Apply for JobStart Scheme funding

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 workplace. The JobStart Scheme will also be open to people aged 50-64 who are wish to enter or re-enter the workplace. This page includes details of how the Scheme will operate and advice on how to complete the application form.

How JobStart works

You can receive 100% government funding to create 6-month job opportunities for 16-24 year olds and 50-64 year olds who are not in employment, education or training. 

Participants will be supported through their job opportunity by Work Coaches in the Department for Communities and the JobStart Team for those not on benefits. 

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 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
  • 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 will perform due diligence and financial checks on all employers.

What you will get

For each job opportunity you will receive funding to 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

*You can offer additional hours but you will have to fund the additional hours yourself.

Please note: You will need to provide monthly payslips for each JobStart participant.

Following approval of an individualised training plan you can avail of a support grant for each job opportunity to cover any support and training the participant may need, such as uniforms, health and safety training, inductions, accredited training and any other costs to the company to support the participant settle into employment.

The support grant will provide you with funding of £1000 for 6-month opportunities. You will be paid the grant in two instalments once you have met certain conditions.

For each job opportunity you must help the participant become more employable.

This could include:

  • training to develop occupational related skills
  • training to develop employability skills, such as team work, organisation and communications as part of the role
  • support to update their CV and interview preparation
  • support to look for long-term work

Please note that the Department does not have contracts with any individual training providers. You are free to choose any organisation to provide this employability support on your behalf. 

What you need to provide during the application

You will need:

  • your Companies House reference number, Charity Commission for Northern Ireland number, if you have one
  • your organisation address and contact details
  • details of the JobStart Scheme job opportunities and their location
  •  supporting information to show that the job opportunities meet the JobStart Scheme criteria
  • information about the support you can give to develop the skills of the participants

How you will get the funding

The Department will use information from HMRC to check that the participant is still employed. The funding to pay the participant’s salary will be paid monthly in arrears when we know they are:

  • enrolled on your payroll
  • being paid through Pay As You Earn (PAYE)

You can pay a higher wage and employ the participant for more than 25 hours but the Department’s funding will not cover this.

How employers can participate in JobStart

  • you can apply for JobStart by completing an online application form 
  • you should allow 4 to 6 weeks for your application to be considered and processed.
  • if your application has been approved, the Department will arrange for the opportunity to be advertised on JobApplyni.
  • you will follow your own recruitment process to select the best eligible candidate for the JobStart opportunity.

Please note: JobStart opportunities are only available for participants aged 16 to 24 and 50 to 64 who are referred to you by Department for Communities (DfC).

If your application is successful:

  1. staff in the Department will match suitable candidates to your job opportunities.
  2. the candidates will apply directly to you.
  3. you will then carry out normal company recruitment and selection procedures to identify the candidate best suited to your role.
  4. you will notify the Department for Communities JobStart team of your preferred candidate(s).

Funding will only be provided if a participant is hired using the JobStart Scheme process as outlined in this guide.

How to apply

You can Apply online and a step by step guide through the application forms is available.

After you have applied

We will aim to inform you of the decision on your application within 4 weeks.

The job opportunities do not exist until the application has been approved and you have signed the funding agreement.

Terms and conditions

The JobStart Scheme has been designed to support people, aged 16 to 24 and 50 to 64 who are at risk of long term unemployment, move into the workplace. The terms and conditions for funding from the JobStart Scheme are outlined at the link below.

JobStart Scheme video

This JobStart video provides a short introduction to the JobStart Scheme from DfC Permanent Secretary Colum Boyle. Staff from the Scheme also highlight the aims, benefits and successes of the Scheme for both employers and jobseekers. A selection of young people who participated in the DfC JobStart Specialist Pathway and which have retained employment in DfC as a result of their participation on the Scheme also share their experiences.

Watch employers and young people currently participating on the scheme as they speak about their experience of JobStart.

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