How to kick-start your career if you’re aged 18-24

Aged 18-24 and looking for work?

It’s no secret that young people have been amongst the most disproportionately affected groups in regards to employment during the pandemic. Especially when it comes to factors such as furlough and unemployment. 

But what steps can you take to overcome these trying times? And how can we help you kick-start (or restart) your career and find a job you love?


The majority of young people are looking for work

Over six in 10 (61%) UK adults aged between 18-34 are looking for a job right now, according to our recent survey results*. 

Over a quarter (27%) said that they’re actively looking for a new role, whilst a further 34% admitted that they’re speculatively searching for work. 18-34 year olds are by far the most active jobseekers compared to other age groups – with the proportion of adults aged 35-44 actively or speculatively looking for work dropping to less than half (48%). 


The continued effects of COVID-19 

Although the motivations for looking for work may vary, when viewed in the context of COVID-19 these numbers are not all that surprising. Particularly when considering the youngest of these workers.

In fact, ONS’ labour market overview for March 2021 suggests that over 60% of the 700,000 who have lost their jobs since the start of the pandemic are under 25 years old. This group are also the most likely to have been placed on furlough, with over 800,000 of the 4.7m currently furloughed being aged under 25 (as of February 2021).


What schemes are available to help?

The government has put a number of initiatives in place to help improve employment opportunities for younger jobseekers. Some of which have been specifically set up to help cope with the demands of the pandemic. 

Here’s a short guide breaking down some of support available right now:

Kickstart – Probably the most highly-publicised of the new initiatives, the Kickstart Scheme provides employers with funding to create new job placements (up to a period of six months) for 16-24 year olds on Universal Credit who are particularly at risk of long term unemployment. The £2 billion programme was announced in summer 2020 as part of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s ‘Plans for Jobs’ package. Kickstart jobs are available in almost every industry – including admin, sales, tech, marketing and more.

Kickstart: What you need to know

View all Kickstart jobs


Apprenticeships – Although apprenticeships are nothing new, the government has introduced extra incentives for employers to hire apprentices during the pandemic. Many of these opportunities are open to anyone aged 16+, and some employers may even offer apprenticeships to those who have completed Kickstart placements with their company already. There are many different types of apprenticeships available – ranging from science and engineering, through to health and beauty. So even if you’re not interested in a traditional trade, there could still be an apprenticeship out there for you.  

Seven reasons you should start an apprenticeship

View all apprenticeship jobs


T Levels – T Levels are new two year courses aimed at 16-19 year olds. They have been designed to offer a blend of education and experience in the workplace through a 45 day industry placement. Each T Level qualification is equivalent to three A Levels. Initially launched as a pilot scheme in three subject areas (education, childcare and design), more options will be available from September 2021. And with schools linking up with local employers to help provide a follow on route into work, they could be the perfect option for anyone looking to learn and progress in their career. 

T Level provider list (


TraineeshipsTraineeships are skills development programmes which include work placements. They can last from six weeks up to one year, with some providing a formal qualification upon completion or even leading to a longer term apprenticeship. Once again, employers have been offered extra incentives since the start of COVID-19 to encourage them to hire trainees throughout 2021, and beyond.  

How to: Find traineeships

View all traineeship jobs


SWAP – Sector-based Work Academy Programmes (SWAP) offer a combination of work experience placements (lasting up to six weeks) and pre-employment training. Administered by Jobcentre Plus, they’re available to all jobseekers aged 18 and up and provide a great opportunity for young people to gain experience – as well as offering a guaranteed job interview at the end of each placement.


What courses are available for young people?

Aside from any formal employment schemes, there are a number of courses available for younger jobseekers – no matter what their previous level of education is.

Examples of good courses for school leavers include NVQs, A levels, Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) and Foundation Diplomas. Additionally, there are a number of other, more job-specific options which enable learners to gain a professional qualification in everything from business and accounting, through to healthcare, beauty, marketing and tech.    

Most are available to be taken online and can be flexible to fit around your schedule. Many offer flexible payment plans too, meaning you don’t have to break the bank to get ahead in your career.

Work experience courses: How to get started 

View all available courses


Entry level jobs and graduate schemes

One of the biggest challenges facing younger jobseekers is finding work without having previous experience. 

However, there are some great entry level roles within all sectors which don’t require previous experience. Some examples of entry level jobs include:


For anyone who may already have gained a degree, there are many more options available in the form of more specific graduate jobs. Graduate schemes are also a great route into employment, with many employers offering their own initiatives to help graduates gain on-the-job training and progress in their careers. 

What job can I do with my degree?

View all entry level jobs

View all graduate jobs 


How else can help?

There are thousands of roles added to every single day, in a variety of different industries. You can apply via desktop or on-the-go via our app. Sign up to receive job alerts for opportunities in your area – so you’ll never miss out on the right role again. 

We also have a wide range of Career Advice for every stage of your jobseeking journey. Some of our most popular resources include CV templates and interview tips, as well as articles aimed more specifically at younger jobseekers. 

Good starting points include our graduate and school leaver advice sections, our personal statement section and our free CV Builder. There are also guides on everything from how to handle video interviews and the top tips to progress in your career, through to how to make the most of your transferable skills and plan your career path in a new field. 

So no matter what you need help with, we’re here for you. 



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*Data taken from an online survey of 2,001 adults aged 18-64 in the UK who are either employed (full- or part-time), furloughed or unemployed. Survey conducted in January 2021 by Atomik Research on behalf of


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