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The Director’s Take: The Kickstart scheme – a much-needed boost for young people and businesses

The toll the pandemic is taking on young people is being increasingly well documented, and it makes for worrying reading. From the lack of face-to-face learning in education, to the inevitable economic impact on the jobs market creating a huge blow to opportunities for young people.   

As a business community it is our responsibility to do all we can to fight back against this and open doors for young people. Not only is this the right thing to do, it makes business sense. The skills and energy of the next generation are needed for businesses to thrive. 

The Kickstart scheme from the Department for Work and Pensions was launched in Autumn 2020 to address the issues of youth unemployment as a direct result of the pandemic. By offering a placement through the scheme, businesses can support young people to get valuable work experience and benefit from new skills, ideas and talent. The scheme is open to young people aged 16-24 who are claiming universal credit and provides employers with funding to cover 25 hours per week of salary at national minimum wage (as applicable), plus NI and minimum automatic enrolment contributions for a period of 6 months. Employers need to commit to supporting the young person to develop their general ‘employability’ skills to increase their chances of securing sustainable employment. This includes, communication, teamwork, organisation, alongside interview skills, CV and application writing. Placements can progress on to an apprenticeship or to a job with the employer during or at the end of the placement period.

You may have previously heard that to apply you needed to be offering a minimum of 30 placements (some businesses were teaming up to enable this). The DWP have now, however, changed the process so that an employer can apply offering any number of placements. This should open the opportunity out to many more businesses. 

Exeter City Council is offering a Gateway service to businesses in Exeter and the wider area, so they can guide and support businesses throughout the process. This means that ECC will handle the applications and communication with DWP and ensure that employers are given the right information to be successful. ECC will help employers to support and train the young people and have already done the leg work with training providers to get all the relevant information together, making it much simpler for businesses to meet this obligation. While some providers are charging a fee for this service, the Exeter City Council service is at no cost to the employer.

You can find more information on the scheme below – we urge everyone to consider if and how this can work for your business. This is something tangible that we as a business community can to do support this generation of young people who will be facing challenges like never seen before. 

Jo Caine, Exeter Chamber

 

 

More information on the Kickstart scheme: 

Scheme overview

  • The Kickstart scheme was launched in Autumn 2020 to address the issues of youth unemployment as a direct result of the pandemic.
  • There is great potential to be able to support young people to get some valuable work experience and for employers to offer these opportunities when it is such a difficult time for young people to get experience in the labour market.
  • It is open to young people aged 16-24 who are claiming universal credit
  • The scheme will provide employers with funding to cover 25 hours per week of salary at national minimum wage (as applicable), plus NI and minimum automatic enrolment contributions for a period of 6 months.
  • Placements can start up to the end of December 2021.
  • Employers taking a placement also need to commit to supporting the young person to develop their general ‘employability’ skills to increase their chances of securing sustainable employment. This includes, communication, teamwork, organisation, alongside interview skills, CV and application writing.
  • Employers will receive £1,500 per placement to contribute towards training and start-up costs of the placement.
  • Placements can progress on to an apprenticeship or into a job with the employer offering the placement, during or at the end of the placement period. There is no obligation on the host employer to offer a job at the end of the 6 months.
  • Employers can apply to be part of the scheme either directly to DWP or via a Gateway organisation (this is a change as of 3 February 2021). There is no minimum amount of placements that can be applied for.
  • All businesses applying are subject to a financial check.
  • Sole Traders need to work with a Gateway organisation that is willing to act as the employer as they cannot apply direct.

 
Why use a Gateway Organisation?

  • Gateway organisations will handle the applications and communication with DWP, ensure that employers are completing and giving the right information, rather than applying and not being successful.
  • They will support employers to meet the requirements of the scheme in relation to support and training for the young people, making it much simpler for businesses to meet this obligation and engage properly with the scheme.
  • They will ensure good working links between businesses and the local Jobcentre staff to get the right young people interested in the available positions.
  • They will support, advise, and guide the employer and the young person where needed.

Working with Exeter City Council

  • As ECC are an approved Gateway provider, there is a shortened application process as it has an existing grant agreement.
  • ECC will make the process as smooth and as easy to navigate as possible and has already gathered a great deal of knowledge and understanding about the programme over the past 6 months.

More information and how to apply: 

For more information from Exeter City Council; [email protected]