Getting young people back into work as the district and the whole nation looks to recover from the devastation of coronavirus has to be one of the key priorities for everyone.
The Kickstart scheme, as its name suggests, is one of the main elements of the Government’s efforts to do that.
And it has been met with enthusiasm in Bradford, where a number of employers have embraced the scheme, which is designed to get young people aged 16 – 24 on Universal Credit back into employment.
Damian Holmes of Bradford Means Business took a closer look at how it will work and why it is considered so important.
Bradford Council’s portfolio holder for education Imran Khan is only too aware of how vital getting young adults into work is, particularly with Bradford being widely regarded as the youngest city in the UK.
He says it is really important to get as many businesses signed up as possible for the Government scheme, which is aimed at getting 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit off benefits and into work.
The Kickstart scheme is designed to give young people at risk of long-term unemployment, six months paid work experience funded by the government, to improve their chances of finding a permanent job.
Just over a month ago, well over 130 employers across the city had already signed up to provide placements through the SkillsHouse Partnership, and the roles are now starting to be filled.
SkillsHouse is a gateway provider, helping businesses access funding, while also providing training and support during the placement.
Hundreds of six-month placements are being offered to young people in a wide range of roles including sales, bookkeeping, gardening, butchery, cooking and youth work. Among the businesses who have signed up are University of Bradford and Kala Sangam Arts Centre.
SkillsHouse is working with a range of partners on the Kickstart scheme, including local education institutions, government and local authority bodies, and community groups.
They include Bradford College, Brathay Trust, Department for Work and Pensions, Grange Interlink, Impact Hub, Incommunities, Karmand Community Centre, Keighley College, Project 6, Shipley College, Skills For Growth, The Bridge Project and University of Bradford
Councillor Khan urged people who were eligible to put their name forward as soon as possible.
“If you are aged 16 to 24 and claiming Universal Credit you should get in touch with your work coach now to make sure you don’t miss out on the opportunity,” he said.
“This is hands-on work experience in real workplaces that could greatly improve your employability skills and long-term employment goals.
“Young people have been particularly hard hit by the economic impacts of the pandemic and as Bradford has the youngest population in the country it is essential that as a Council we do all we can to help young people into work. It is a crucial part of our Covid-19 recovery.
“It is encouraging that many local businesses have already signed up for the scheme and are offering our young people these valuable opportunities.
“I would encourage any other employers interested in getting involved to email us on firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.”
The work being done in Bradford was welcomed by Minister for Employment, Mims Davies earlier this year.
She said: “It’s great to see local organisations across Bradford rally together offering over 700 young people a vital opportunity to gain experience locally in a range of industries, from accounting to community support – importantly boosting their longer-term prospects.
“This demonstrates how our Plan for Jobs is creating fresh opportunities across communities and helping people back into work.
“Vitally we are supporting employers in key growth sectors to recruit, as we push to build back better and level up opportunity across the country.”
The scheme was originally launched last year, but was given fresh impetus in February this year, when the Government removed the stipulated minimum of 30 jobs firms taking part had to offer in a bid to increase uptake.
Under the scheme, the Government will pay 100% of the young person’s age-relevant National Minimum Wage for 6 months, National Insurance and pension contributions for 25 hours a week, which the employer can top up if they choose to. In addition, the Government will pay £1,500 per Kickstarter taken on to cover any associated set up costs.
Since it first launched in September last year, the Government has been working with companies across a wide range of sectors to create over 120,000 Kickstart jobs nationally; and in encouraging more employers to join, we are now making it even easier for companies of all sizes to apply for any number of vacancies.
Employers who want to support the schem can apply through one of the more than 700 approved gateways, which can also offer valuable connections into local communities.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said in an article he wrote in February that the scheme offered the opportunity to create a ‘kickstart’ generation to drive the country forward.
“Young people are usually amongst the worst hit by crises, and unemployment can have longstanding implications for their future jobs and wages. We also know people are leaving education into an extremely difficult jobs market”.Rishi Sunak
“But I don’t want the next generation to be remembered on these terms – I want the next generation to be remembered as the Kickstart generation. It’s their talent and skills that will drive our country forward in the future.
“That’s why, as part of the application process, employers are being asked to demonstrate what employability support they will provide for the young person on the scheme to ensure Kickstart participants are able to capitalise on their experience and use it as a stepping-stone into work. This may include on-the-job-training, mentoring and work-search support.
“With the 30 placement cap now removed, hopefully this will encourage more SMEs to be involved.”
A list of gateways and more information on how to get involved is available on the kickstart website.