JobStart is an employer incentive scheme from the Department for Communities (DfC) that will help young people aged 16–24 at risk of long term unemployment to get into the job market by providing government funding for employers to create job opportunities.

Please note: The JobStart programme is now closed.

Key employer deadlines

Key dates for employers as the JobStart scheme comes to a close:

  • Thursday 31 March 2022 at 5pm - new employer applications will no longer be accepted after this deadline
  • Tuesday 31 May 2022 at 5pm - all JobStart vacancies will be removed from the job vacancy website and young people will no longer be referred by work coaches
  • Friday 17 June 2022 at 5pm - last day for an employer to start a young person on the scheme and for employers to notify the JobStart team of a participant starting into a role

Read further details on the JobStart employer deadlines.

What employers need to know about JobStart

Employers in Northern Ireland can receive 100% government funding to create six-month job opportunities for 16-24 year-olds who are not in employment (or 9 months for those who meet certain criteria).

Young people participating in JobStart will be supported through their job opportunity by Youth Work Coaches in the Department for Communities.

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
  • 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 six-month job opportunity, with a possible extension to 9 months for those who meet certain criteria
  • Jobs opportunities must offer at least 25 hours of employment per week
  • Jobs offered must pay at least the National Minimum Wage through PAYE

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

JobStart funding available for employers

For each job opportunity funding will 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

*Employers can offer additional hours but will have to fund the additional hours themselves

There is £1,500 of funding available for each job opportunity for start-up costs to cover any support and training the young person may need e.g. health and safety training, Construction Skills Register (CSR) Card, as well as helping pay for work uniforms, personal protective equipment, etc.

How employers can participate in JobStart

Apply for JobStart

Employers should allow up to 4 weeks for applications to be considered. Any correspondence about applications will be issued by email


Employers should note the following important deadline dates for JobStart.

Thursday 31 March 2022 at 5pm

The JobStart employer application portal closed to new applications. Employers can no longer apply for the scheme. All JobStart applications received prior to the scheme closing will be unaffected and the department will process all final applications received before the closing date.

Tuesday 31 May 2022 at 5pm

All JobStart vacancies removed from the department's job vacancy website. The department's work coaches will cease matching and referring any further 16 to 24 year olds to the JobStart scheme.

Friday 17 June 2022 at 5pm

This is the last date the department will accept 'start notifications' from employers and the last day for an employer to start a young person on the scheme.

Employers are asked to ensure all timetables are adhered to and all paperwork is with the department by the required deadline. The department cannot take responsibility for late notifications received after 5pm on Friday 17 June 2022.

Scheme closure will not affect any young people currently participating. These young people will be allowed to continue in their JobStart opportunity until their participation end date is reached.

These dates and times will be strictly adhered to by the department. Any queries should be emailed to the JobStart team at

How young people can participate in JobStart

Any young person 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 young person is not currently claiming an eligible benefit, they should contact the JobStart Team in the Department for Communities on 028 9072 6797 to get information on how to be submitted to the JobStart Scheme.

How employers can promote their participation in JobStart

Employers are free to promote their involvement in the scheme including through social media and on company websites.

Additional information

  • Young people 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 health, safety & welfare for young people, and pay National Insurance & Pension contributions
  • Employers must include support for young people to develop their employability skills to help them to 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 young person(s)
  • Alternatively, the young person will finish the job opportunity, having gained occupational and employability skills to help them find alternative employment or to progress into further education or training opportunities.
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