Hundreds more young people in the East Midlands could be given a chance to gain vital work experience after the Government extended the Kickstart Scheme by three months, says one of the country’s top delivery partners.
East Midlands Chamber welcomed Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s confirmation the Government’s employment programme will continue to fund new starters on the six-month job placements until 31 March 2022, rather than the original 31 December 2021 end date.
This means it will continue to accept applications from employers and gateway organisations, such as the Chamber – which has already helped to create and fill more than 1,000 vacancies for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit or at risk of long-term unemployment – until 17 December this year.
Unveiling a £500m jobs support package at the Conservative Party Conference today, Mr Sunak also confirmed an initiative to give businesses a £3,000 bonuses for each apprentice it hires will be extended until 31 January 2022.
East Midlands Chamber deputy chief executive and Kickstart lead Diane Beresford said: “This is really positive news for businesses as it comes at a crucial period in which many firms are now looking to grow again following the struggles they have endured over the past 18 months.
“The Kickstart Scheme has been a fantastic initiative that enables companies to trial new roles they may otherwise not have felt in a position to do, and we’ve received outstanding feedback from so many employers about the high standard of people they have recruited and the attributes they’ve brought to teams.
“This announcement also provides a big boost to young people, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic both in terms of their mental and physical wellbeing, and the significant amount of unemployment it has created.
“The Kickstart Scheme has been a lifeline for them to get the skills and work experience that will be vital to their future prospects, and this extension will enable potentially hundreds more people to make the first crucial steps in their career.”
How does the Kickstart Scheme help businesses and young people?
The Department for Work and Pensions funds 100% of the age-relevant National Minimum Wage, national insurance and pension contributions for 25 hours a week over a six-month period.
Employers can choose to top up this wage and are also eligible for a £1,500 Government grant for training people on a Kickstart placement.
Once applications are accepted, young people are referred into the roles via a Jobcentre Plus work coach.
East Midlands Chamber has had just under 2,800 placements approved among 860 businesses located in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and other locations. Of these, 2,325 have resulted in vacancies being created and 1,111 of those have now been filled, with dozens starting new roles every week – meaning hundreds more could benefit over the three-month extension.
Eighty percent of those who have finished their six-month placements have either secured jobs or moved into further study.
Frontline Sales & Marketing, in Chesterfield, has recruited 10 people via the Kickstart Scheme, with some of those resulting in permanent roles.
Murphy & Son, a 134-year-old brewing supplies and consultancy firm based in Old Basford, Nottingham, added six Kickstarters to its workforce of 54 full-time employees. It is planning to convert many of the placements into apprenticeships and permanent positions.
Head of technical Iain Kenny said: “It has allowed us to recruit for brand new positions that have previously not existed.
“All the young people have specifically been recruited with these roles in mind, so have brought a fresh set of skills and understanding that we have not previously had within the organisation.”
One of these was the role of sustainability assessment co-ordinator, which was filled by Tamsin Randall, who sets recommendations and implements changes to reduce the company’s emissions compared to a baseline year.
The 23-year-old, from Nottingham, said: “I have had loads of valuable experience, which has made me realise how interested I am in environmental issues and the importance of businesses working together to reduce carbon emissions. From this, I have taken away that for the rest of my career that I ultimately want to be working in sustainability.”