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Managing Your People Effectively in the Post-Pandemic Era
September 11, 2020
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By Tim Boag

The coronavirus lockdown has forced millions of employees to adapt to socially distanced working arrangements and working remotely – a trend many expect to continue well after the pandemic subsides.

Multinational businesses such as Facebook and Twitter have already moved towards making working from home the norm, a shift enabled by technology and telecommuting.

For small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK, who may not have the resources of larger firms, hybrid or blended working is more likely to become the new normal, where employees split their time between the office and home.

Managing colleagues remotely can be challenging. Homeworking can cause mental stress, video call fatigue, burnout and a craving for ‘real’ human interaction.

These factors are exacerbated by the added worry of the pandemic. In this climate, leaders need to establish how they can best manage their workforce, maintain good levels of productivity, and care for their employees’ mental and physical wellbeing.

Below are some useful tips to help manage your business during this challenging time:

Keep in regular contact with stakeholders and customers

SMEs should prioritise frequent communication with key stakeholders, whether they are colleagues or customers. Although face to face interactions are difficult right now, video conferencing tools – such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, and Google Hangouts among others – make it easy to keep in touch with your stakeholders.

Instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Skype offer an even quicker way to communicate updates and information to stakeholders. Finding the right communication tool can often be a case of trial and error but it’s important to find the right one for your business.

Encouragingly, Aldermore’s recent research found that 30% of SMEs had actually increased the amount they communicate with customers and clients during the pandemic.

Of course, while frequent communication is crucial for maintaining employee morale and keeping on top of workloads, it’s important not to go overboard and inundate your people.

Find out what frequency works best for your organisation. If daily calls are causing fatigue among employees, switch to having them every other day or even weekly.

Embrace technology

Communicating well with stakeholders from home often relies heavily on technology. Aldermore’s research found that one in five (20%) SMEs wanted more guidance on how to improve the technological capacity of their business.

One simple way of improving capabilities, is to provide employees with the necessary IT tools – whether that means providing training, a sufficient laptop, a monitor, mouse or headphones, they should have the tools they need to work from home effectively.

Technology can also play an important role in improving interactions between a business and its customers. To ensure our brokers and SME customers were backed throughout this crisis we fast tracked the launch of our online broker portal, Asset Backer, to all our intermediary partners. Asset Backer offers an electronic, paperless end-to-end process, which allows businesses to continue working with customers remotely.

Have robust cyber security measures in place

Mass working from home has created more opportunities for fraudsters to target companies and their customers. Since February for example, over 2,100 COVID-19 related scam cases have been reported to Action Fraud.

Given the heightened risk, it is important companies have robust security measures in place to protect their business. Even simple steps such as reminding employees to regularly change their passwords and keeping their laptop locked when not in use, can go a long way to protecting a business.

Employee wellbeing has to be the number one priority

During this pandemic, it is crucial that businesses focus on the wellbeing of their people. Leaders need to be even more conscious of someone’s personal circumstances and show flexibility towards them, for example allowing those with childcare commitments to flex their working hours.

Keeping morale high can be difficult in these challenging times, but organising virtual coffee catch ups or quiz evenings can go a long way towards boosting spirits. As humans we all need that social interaction, sense of belonging and shared identity that has been put under pressure by lockdown.

As the economy emerges from the gloom of the pandemic, businesses leaders must face up to the prospect that a large proportion of their colleagues may want to continue working at least part of the time out of the office.

When managing a workforce at a distance, it is vital that leaders keep in frequent contact with their stakeholders, embrace technology, monitor and respond to the wellbeing of their employees.

By doing so they will be able to reap the benefits, including increased productivity, improved employees’ morale and enhanced efficiency.

Tim Boag is group managing director of business finance at Aldermore

CareerWise Canada: Working with Mature Clients

An article by TANYA MYKHAYLYCHENKO

This article covers several challenges mature workers face and how career pros can address them.

Career professionals have a broad range of tools for success when working with mature clients who have been in full-time management or administrative roles for 10+ years with the same employer.

Many of these workers are dedicated professionals who were known and respected in their recent workplace for their strong knowledge of the organization and its processes. Often you can hear them say, “I don’t know how to put this on the resume, but I just get things done. I’m very reliable.”

Mature workers who have not had to look for work in several years need help understanding ATS, networking, follow-up and ways of articulating their professional differentiators. The added challenges of post-COVID hiring may include higher competition, more agile businesses and more reliance on technology. In the current climate, mature workers may also need some assistance with highlighting their technical skills and their ability to work remotely.

Understanding the Agile, Contingent Workforce of Today

Competition is high, many roles are temporary, and businesses are trying to be agile and save resources. COVID-19 is introducing new remote ways to do business, use more technologies and delegate tasks to workers (in any location) who can be productive in a remote setting.

If your client was used to stability and long-term employment in their previous organization, they may first consider acknowledging the current situation to position themselves as a candidate who offers both stability and adaptability.

To support mature workers:

  • Prepare them to leverage their experience and years of dedication to previous employers while expressing their adaptability to most recent changes in hiring.
    • They can speed up their hiring process by being highly articulate about their measurable results, technical skills and soft skills – the combination that makes them stand out.
  • Train them to highlight their hard skills as well as demonstrate confidence, competence, resilience and strong communication. A candidate with a calm, executive presence is seen as a reliable employee able to handle challenges.
  • Articulate their value for them: focus on their ability to build consensus at all levels of the organization while listening to employer’s needs and solving problems.
  • Help your client identify their top 3-5 differentiators that make them competitive.
    • You may recommend that they write down a list of their top 10-15 strengths and pick 3-5 from this list when applying for a specific role.
    • You can help them adopt a positive attitude of sharing, in concise terms, their unique professional value with a focus on employer’s needs.
    • You can emphasize the necessity to research a target company, follow up, reach the hiring manager and build their LinkedIn network.

Understanding the Achievement-Based Resume Structure

As with all other applicants, mature workers may focus too much on job duties in their resumes.

To support your clients:

  • Explain how the resume logic evolved with a focus on readability (documents must be easy to skim) and measurable results (‘problem – action – result’ format).
  • Train mature workers to think in terms of how they solve problems and what outcomes they deliver (vs. process and experience).
  • Ask specific questions or develop questionnaires to help them articulate results.
  • Encourage them to prepare for interviews following the same achievement-based approach and think in terms of how they can help employers save money, make money, improve operations or address difficulties.

Understanding Current Job Application Cycles

Submitting a resume alone is not enough. Many mature workers may favour a resume spray approach where they send applications to 50+ open positions online, without prior knowledge of companies. Help them understand a job search strategy as a more focused, yet varied effort.

To support your clients:

  • Help them inform their immediate network (service providers, community organizations, extended family, former colleagues or clients, religious, sports or recreational affiliations, etc.) that they are looking for a new role.
  • Encourage your clients to create a list of 20 target employers and research them, follow them on social media, identify decision-makers and connect with them on LinkedIn.
  • Provide your clients with examples of networking messages that are brief, clear and authentic.
  • Help your clients understand the full cycle of the job application process:
    • customizing the application for each specific role
    • following up
    • networking online
    • building relationships while interviewing (for future opportunities)
    • “closing the sale” after in-person interviews with some form of 30-60-90-day plan or a list of their action items for the first month if they were to be hired.
  • Inspire your clients to be proactive at every stage of the application vs. waiting for a response. Help them understand that an online job application puts them in the pool of 100-200 other applicants and an interview invitation puts them in a pool of 2-6 other competitions. What will they do to keep standing out?

Throughout the process of working with mature workers, remind yourself of where they are coming from and how this informs their current motivation, approaches or challenges. By showing your understanding and acknowledgement of their current state, you can help them adopt new ways of looking for work faster, while finding the best approach for each individual.


TANYA MYKHAYLYCHENKO

Tanya Mykhaylychenko is a resume writer with a background in university teaching and IT staffing. She is a member of Editors Canada and Career Professionals of Canada.

Three Free Ways to Access Apprenticeship Support and Resources
September 9, 2020
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The Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge for schools and colleges programme (ASK) is back for the new academic year with a blended delivery model, meaning you can access face-to-face or virtual support, or a mix of both!
 WATCH THE EXPLAINER FILM 
Our short explainer film is a great place to start, especially if you don’t have much time. The film gives a helpful overview of the new ASK 2020-21 blended offer and how to access it – and all in under 1.5 minutes! Once you have an overview, it’s time to get some more details with our new brochure…
 DOWNLOAD NEW BROCHURE  
Browse the ASK 2020-21 brochure to find out about the wide range of free support available to you. Once you’ve browsed, you can then book a planning meeting with your local delivery partner to discuss how they can best support your school or college.
 JOIN THE ORIENTATION WEBINAR  
Join our short orientation webinar ‘Understanding the ASK offer for 2020/21‘ to get a feel for the new activities on offer and how to access them. The 30min webinar is tomorrow (Thursday 10th September) at 3.45pm – don’t worry if you’re not available, register anyway and we’ll send you the recording.
UK Faces a ‘Tsunami’ of Unemployment in the Autumn
September 8, 2020
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The TUC is encouraging the government to create a new job protection and upskilling programme as the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) comes to a close next month.

Tuc Union

Following Bank of England predictions that 2.5 million people could be out of work by the end of the year, the TUC warned the clock is ticking to avoid a “tsunami of unemployment” in Autumn.

It said the government risked throwing away the good work achieved by the JRS and has therefore created a new short-time working scheme designed to prevent mass unemployment and help firms bounce back after the crisis.

Short-time working is where employees agree to or are forced to accept a reduction in working time and pay.

The Job Protection and Upskilling Deal also focuses on helping workers whose jobs are at risk to develop the skills they need for the future.

The TUC recommended businesses receive a 70% subsidy from the government provided they bring back every worker on the scheme for a minimum proportion of their normal working hours.

Any worker whose employer needs them to work for less than 50% of their normal hours would receive free reskilling training.

Employees would also receive 80% of their salary for the hours they are not in work, including when they are training.

Companies would only get help if they can demonstrate they have been hit by coronavirus restrictions, pay their fair share of tax in the UK, boost workers’ rights, pay staff fairly and do not pay dividends while using the scheme.

Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary said working people must not bear the brunt of the recession.

“Protecting decent jobs with fair pay is how we recover. The job retention scheme showed what government can do during a crisis. It saved many people from the dole queue and stopped good companies going to the wall.”

Ben Willmott, head of policy at the CIPD, said there was need for the government to consider additional support for employers once the furlough scheme had closed.

“The sort of short-time working scheme proposed by the TUC has a proven track record of supporting employment in other countries and could help employers hardest hit by COVID-19 to continue to minimise redundancies, particularly in the event of significant local outbreaks or a full blown national second wave over the winter.

“The focus on upskilling is also crucial at this time but many workers who would fall outside the remit of the TUC’s proposed scheme also need support to train so we think that it would make more sense to significantly expand the National Retraining Scheme for this purpose.”

The plan also has built-in contingencies for companies hit by local lockdowns, with companies in this situation automatically qualifying for help through the scheme.

In Austria, unions and employers have extended their coronavirus short-time work scheme for another six months and in France, this will be extended to June 2022.

Agata Nowakowska, area vice president at Skillsoft, said a short-time working model and retraining could help us better prepare for jobs of the future.

“As the war for talent intensifies in the post-pandemic circumstances, employee development and talent pooling will become increasingly vital to building a modern workforce that’s adaptable and flexible.

“Addressing and easing workplace role transitions will require new training models and approaches that include on-the-job training and opportunities that support and signpost workers to opportunities to upgrade their skills.”

Why Providing Flexibility Could Cost Companies Dearly
September 8, 2020
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BY Musab Hemsi

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically accelerated the shift towards more flexible working practices across the economy.

Remote working was a simple necessity at the start of the pandemic, but it’s clear that many of the habits we’ve adopted during this period are here to stay.

For employees, this brings many benefits, with better work-life balance, more free time and less money spent commuting. Meanwhile, employers may be able to reduce their reliance on expensive office spaces.

However, many employers will not be aware of the potential legal implications of how they handle requests for flexible working as we look beyond the pandemic. Here’s what employers need to know.

In 2014, the rules on flexible working were changed to enable employees with over 26 weeks’ service to request a change to their working hours, the times they work and their place of work.

This legal framework is underpinned by a statutory regime, which requires employers to formally decide on any request for flexible working within three months of receiving a request. This process can be extended by agreement with the employee.

Legally, there are only a handful of reasons an employer can refuse a request for more flexible working. These mostly relate to an impact on customers, colleagues and their ability to carry out the work within the new arrangement.

However, many employees will have found that their ability to carry out their work has not been compromised while working remotely during the pandemic. In fact, many have reported an increase in their productivity, with more flexible working arrangements. In light of this, employers should be aware of the possibility of appeals if they refuse applications on these grounds.

Another legal nuance employers should be aware of is that mishandling requests for more flexible working could expose them to unlawful discrimination claims.

This is especially true in relation to employees who have childcare or disability issues that restrict their ability to work in accordance with traditional working practices.

If a decision to refuse flexible working arrangements to an employee has even an unintended effect of discriminating against that employee based on a protected characteristic, employers may find themselves in hot water.

For example, refusing a disabled employee the ability to work flexibly may count as unlawful discrimination if the employer’s premises are not designed to accommodate wheelchair users.

It’s therefore key to have a positive dialogue with employees who request flexible working and to understand their reasoning. This results in both better outcomes for the employee and protects the employer from the risk of potentially costly and time-consuming legal consequences.

Ultimately, employers should work to ensure that they have a robust and comprehensive system in place to handle requests and ensure that managers are well-placed to take decisions with proper business rationale, while enabling employees to set out their case for flexible working.

Unfortunately, we find that many employers approach flexible working requests with a closed mind. This is usually an error, and employers would be far better off maintaining a constructive dialogue with employees who make flexible working requests and trying to accommodate their requests.

The COVID-19 pandemic has opened the eyes of many businesses to the potential of drastic changes in working practices without compromising on the quality or quantity of work. As we look to the future, employers would be wise to consider the potential of embracing flexible working in a way that benefits both the employer and their employees.

Musab Hemsi is partner at LexLeyton

National Apprenticeship Awards 2020 Open for Entries

Calling all apprentices, employers, and individuals who champion apprenticeships – as the National Apprenticeship Awards 2020 are now open for entries.

The National Apprenticeship Awards 2020 logo.
  • Open for entries between 1 and 25 September 2020
  • New for 2020, national and regional ceremonies broadcast online
  • Apprentice employers, apprentices and apprenticeship champions from all sectors and levels are encouraged to enter

Back for their 17th year, the National Apprenticeship Awards are a fantastic opportunity to showcase the apprentices and employers who have gone above and beyond, in spite of the challenges faced during this pandemic.

Entries to the awards are open until 25 September 2020 and this year’s winners will be recognised via virtual ceremonies. These ceremonies will also champion employers, apprentices and apprenticeship champions from all sectors – from engineering, digital, healthcare and science, to beauty, manufacturing and education are invited to enter the awards.

Peter Mucklow, Director of Apprenticeships, Education and Skills Funding Agency said:

We are pleased to announce that entries to the National Apprenticeship Awards 2020 are open. It is important that we continue to recognise the employers of all sizes, apprentices and those who champion apprentices during this unprecedented time.

I have been delighted by the on-going commitment from employers, recognising the many benefits apprentices bring and ensuring they can continue their studies.

We are excited to announce that for the first time, the winners and highly commended will be announced at regional and national virtual ceremonies. This will allow an even wider audience to celebrate the success, commitment and investment in apprenticeships, and the impact they have. I am personally very much looking forward to being part of these exciting new online ceremonies.

Categories for the National Apprenticeship Awards 2020 are:
Employer of the Year categories
  • SME Employer of the Year (for organisations with 1 to 249 employees)
  • Large Employer of the Year (for organisations with 250 to 4,999 employees)
  • Macro Employer of the Year (for organisations with 5,000+ employees)
  • Recruitment Excellence (the winner is selected from Employer of the Year award entries, and will be awarded to an organisation that has recruited a diverse and high quality apprenticeship workforce).
Apprentice of the Year categories
  • Intermediate Level (level 2)
  • Advanced Level (level 3)
  • Higher or Degree Level (level 4 or higher)
  • Rising Star1 (nominated by their employer, this award recognises apprentices that have made impressive progress in their career to date, and have the potential to go even further).
  • Apprentice Champion (recognises individuals who go ‘above and beyond’ to champion apprenticeships. The nomination is made by a colleague or contact who recognises an individual’s ‘champion’ credentials).

In 2019, Invotra was crowned the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT Award for National SME Employer of the Year at the National Apprenticeship Awards.

HR Director, Alison Galvin, explained at the time:

Invotra are overjoyed to have won the national award. When you invest your time in people and support them as they grow, you end up with loyal, hardworking individuals who are a huge asset within your business. It’s truly wonderful to be recognised for our hard work to champion apprenticeships and our dedication to investing time into mentoring and developing these valued team members.

Entries to the awards close on 25 September. Regional ceremonies will take place between 2 and 6 November, with the national ceremony taking place on Wednesday 25 November.

To enter the National Apprenticeship Awards 2020, or to sign up to our mailing list, please visit: appawards.co.uk

Follow @Apprenticeships on Twitter and the National Apprenticeship Service page on LinkedIn to keep up to date with all the latest awards information.

  1. Please note: The Rising star will not include a public vote this year due to the condensed format of the awards. 
Businesses at Risk by Lack of Background Checks
September 2, 2020
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Cybersecurity threats and data breaches are on the rise and a lack of background checking could be putting global businesses at risk according to new research.

HireRight’s annual benchmarking survey found almost one third (32%) of participating global companies said they do not conduct checks on any of their extended workforce including temporary workers, contractors and interns.

Yet over half (54%) of those asked said they were finding discrepancies in candidates’ employment histories and 48% said that their safety and security had benefited from more consistent screening.

As the extended workforce may still have access to sensitive information, and more staff are currently working remotely where connections aren’t as protected, the report suggested that many businesses could be putting their security at risk.

“While there is currently still a stark difference in attitudes towards screening between the U.S. and the rest of the world, the gap is closing as more and more companies are starting to better understand the benefits of candidate and employee background checks, and are using background screening to help mitigate their hiring risk,” said Guy Abramo, CEO of HireRight.

Record Number of Self-Employed Seek In-house Roles During Pandemic
September 1, 2020
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A record 253,000 people moved from self-employment to employment in the second quarter of 2020 suggesting that workers are seeking more job security due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The move towards employment increased by 81,000 compared to the second quarter of 2019 which saw 172,000 people make the switch.

Compared to figures for the first quarter of 2020, the number of formerly self-employed employees rose by 48,000 from 205,000.

Between the first and second quarters of 2020, at the height of the pandemic, only 6% of people changed occupation, yet over half (53%) of those that did also switched their major industry, suggesting that they were seeking a career change as opposed to promotion.

Occupation switchers that have changed major industry between Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 2020. Source: ONS

The ONS suggested that the disproportionate effect the pandemic has had on some industries, like travel and hospitality, could have encouraged some peoples’ decisions to change their major industry.

The latest data from LinkedIn appears to support this trend according to its UK country manager Josh Graff.

Today’s [ONS] figures underscore the fact that we’re facing the toughest labour market in a generation. LinkedIn’s latest data shows that although hiring in the UK has been steadily improving since the steep decline we saw when lockdown measures were put in place, it’s still down on this time last year,” he said.

“Competition for roles has increased three fold and […] workers in the hardest hit industries are looking to other sectors as they seek out new opportunities.”

ONS data showed switching occupations between the first halves of 2019 and 2020 showed a slight increase of 0.4%. It said that this could be due to the effect of the government’s job retention schemes, which could be masking the true scale of UK unemployment, and predicted that the rate of occupational switching may rise as support unwinds in the months leading to 31 October.

Speaking to HR magazine Steve Warnham, jobs expert at Totaljobs, said the job site’s research supports this theory.

He said: “Yesterday’s ONS report revealed a slight increase in the number of people changing occupation in the second quarter of this year. Though this is a trend which is likely to become more prevalent as employment support, such as the UK’s Job Retention Scheme, comes to an end.”

In a survey from April, Totaljobs found 70% of UK workers said they have considered working in a different sector due to COVID-19, and a quarter said they expect to switch industries within the next year.

A desire for increased job security was the reason 32% of survey respondents said they were considering a career change in a different industry.

For Simon Kerr-Davis, counsel at Linklaters employment and incentives practice, he ONS figures are unsurprising. “In times of uncertainty, the perceived job security of employment status has much more appeal than the flexibility offered by self-employment,” he told HR magazine.

Yet he warned employees to be mindful of the perceived security offered by working for an organisation, as the statutory notice period for under two years’ service is just one week.

He added: “The right to a redundancy payment and protection from unfair dismissal also have service requirements and will only apply after two years’ service. There are some “day one” rights for employees which are significant, such as protection from discrimination and from suffering a detriment as a whistleblower, but these rights are also available to self-employed people who provide their services as “workers.”


More on employee redundancy rights:

Legal lowdown: Getting redundancies right

Coronavirus and its potential impact on employee rights

Businesses and ministers need more than redundancy pay law to protect employees


The ONS Coronavirus and occupational switching: January to June 2020 is based on data from the ongoing annual Labour Force Survey.

Covid19: Increasing Debt Advice Capacity 2020 (In England) – Grant Funding
The Money and Pensions Service is delighted to announce an open procurement process for an initial £4 million of funding in 2020/21 focussed on telephone and digital debt advice provision. 

This funding – for organisations not currently in receipt of MaPS mainstream debt advice funding – will be aimed at increasing the capacity of high-quality, free-to-customer debt advice by recruiting and training additional debt advisers in England. It follows, and is informed by, an early market engagement process run in July 2020.

All organisations that meet the eligibility criteria are invited to apply for the funding using the link below.
Find out more
Delay to Start of KICKSTART Scheme

BY  AMY COLES

KICKSTART SCHEME

THOUSANDS of job hunters applying for the government’s flagship scheme to help young workers have been left in limbo as employers are told to pull ads.

In July Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the £2billion Kickstart scheme, aimed at getting hundreds of thousands of unemployed 16-24-year-olds into work.

Under the scheme the government will subsidise the wage costs for young people claiming Universal Credit who are hired by employers for six-month work placements.

Employers should have been able to apply for the scheme this month but now some have been told to stop advertising jobs until a start date is confirmed.

Some recruitment sites say they have removed adverts and slam the government for not giving employers a date for when they can apply, reports This is Money.

Charlie Johnson, CEO of graduate recruitment firm Brighter Box, told the Sun they’ve been inundated with requests from job applicants.

He said: “We wrote a quick overview of what we knew about the scheme for our website and were subsequently inundated with loads of requests for further information.

“I’ve spoken with several employers who are hoping to take advantage of the scheme – some of whom are looking to hire tens of sales people on a 25 hour per week basis (i.e. the amount that the government will be funding these positions).  

“But we haven’t run with any of the twenty or so requests we’ve had so far to advertise roles as companies are awaiting further news”

Kickstart was announced as part of an emergency package to try and limit the unemployment caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Resolution Foundation has forecast the scheme will help find jobs for around 350,000 youngsters in that age group.

A DWP spokesperson said:

“It’s fantastic that so many employers, like Tesco, already want to sign up to our £2 billion Kickstart scheme, and we’ll be publishing further details on how they can shortly.

“Until then, we urge employers to be patient and to not start advertising roles they want to be covered by the scheme just yet – there’s no cap on Kickstart places available, so no-one will miss out.”

Dire forecasts from experts have predicted more than a million youngsters will be out of work this year.

Think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research said 410,000 18 to 24-year-olds were already jobless.

And it forecast 620,000 more would be out of work in the next six months.

Meanwhile, unemployment as a whole could treble to reach three million, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has predicted.

The predicted 1.03million total would be the highest since comparable records began in 1992.

The scheme will cover 100 per cent of the minimum wage for a maximum of 25 hours a week — with firms able to top up wages.

For example, young people between 21 and 24 years old on minimum wage currently earn £8.20 an hour, working out as £205 for 25 hours.

It comes as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has warned that the unemployment rate could reach 15 per cent if a second virus wave hits.

Roughly 9.3million workers in the UK have been furloughed due to the pandemic.