The JobStart scheme provided Department for Communities funding to allow employers to create new job opportunities to help unemployed people aged 16-24 and 50-64 enter or re-enter the job market.

Please note: The JobStart scheme is now closed to applications.

Employer applications for opportunities for 16-24-year-olds are closed - the deadline was Sunday 30 June 2024.

Employer applications for opportunities for 50-64-year-olds are closed - the deadline was Sunday 21 July 2024.

Additional support for local employers is still available through the Work Experience Programme, which offers access to people for short work experience placements ranging from two to eight weeks for 16-65-year-olds or a fixed-term placement of 13 weeks for 16-24-year-olds.

JobStart 50+

The JobStart 50+ scheme has been introduced to help people aged 50-64 years old who wish to enter or re-enter the workplace.

Participants will be supported through their job opportunities by Work Coaches in the Department for Communities and the JobStart Team for those not in receipt of 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 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.
  • Job opportunities must offer at least 25 hours of employment per week.
  • Jobs offered must pay at least the National Living Wage 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 Living 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 participant may need. A support grant of £1,000 is available for 6-month opportunities.

How people can participate in JobStart

Any person aged 50-64 years old 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 person is not currently claiming an eligible benefit, they should contact the JobStart & Work Experience Programme Branch in the Department for Communities on Tel 028 9072 6788 to check their eligibility and obtain information on how to apply for a JobStart scheme opportunity.

Additional information

  • Participants 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 and welfare of participants, and pay National Insurance & Pension contributions.
  • Employers must include support for participants to develop their occupational and employability skills to help them 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 participant(s).
  • Alternatively, the participant will finish the job opportunity, gaining occupational and employability skills to help them find alternative employment or 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 two to eight 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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