East Midlands Chamber helps create jobs for 400 young people in the region – but urges more to take advantage of vacancies
East Midlands Chamber has helped more than 400 young people in the region to find employment by playing a pivotal role in the Kickstart scheme.
Another 1,200 vacancies are live in the region after the region’s leading business representation group worked with 650 employers to create the six-month work placements. So far, there have been about 150 starters in Derbyshire, 100 in Leicestershire and 170 in Nottinghamshire.
Employers that want to create Kickstart roles – which are aimed at people aged 16 to 24 who are on Universal Credit or at risk of long-term unemployment – often use gateway organisations such as East Midlands Chamber to apply to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for a grant to cover the costs.
East Midlands Chamber deputy chief executive and Kickstart lead Diane Beresford said: “We know young people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and the huge amount of unemployment it has created, so the Kickstart scheme is an important mechanism for helping them to get the skills they need to prepare for the world of work.
“We’re so proud to have played a key role in giving young people a chance they may not otherwise have had. After spending many months working with employers on their applications, it’s incredibly exciting and rewarding to see the fruits of our labour as people now start their jobs.
“Businesses taking part are playing a vital role in their communities by supporting and preparing our future workforce, while they also benefit from a relatively risk-free opportunity to trial new roles that could lead to future growth.”
How does the Kickstart scheme work?
The number of people aged 18 to 24 claiming unemployment-related benefits increased by 263,700 between February 2020 and March 2021 – a 110% rise – according to Government data.
In response, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the £2bn Kickstart scheme as part of his Plan for Jobs to help young people into work and spur Britain’s post-Covid economic revival.
Funding pays for 100% of the age-relevant National Minimum Wage, national insurance and pension contributions for 25 hours a week.
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.
The scheme is due to run until 31 December – the date when Kickstart jobs must begin – with funding available until 30 June 2022. However, East Midlands Chamber recommends making applications by the beginning of August.
It began making applications at the beginning of October and has worked with councils in Mansfield, Chesterfield, North East Derbyshire and Melton, as well as East Midlands accountancy firm Duncan & Toplis, to target businesses.
Overall, the Chamber has so far secured 2,770 vacancies – including more than 2,300 in the East Midlands – and dozens of vacancies are going live every week.
Diane added: “There’s still plenty of time for employers to sign up and we continue to work with local authorities to engage with companies about why they should take advantage of the scheme while they can.
“We also want to highlight the Kickstart scheme to young people on Universal Credit who might not be aware of it. There’s a very diverse range of roles available – from digital marketing and e-commerce to sales and admin positions – and they should get in touch with their local Jobcentre Plus work coach.”
Anyone aged 16 to 24 and claiming Universal Credit should speak to their Jobcentre Plus work coach. Find your local Jobcentre Plus branch at find-your-nearest-jobcentre.dwp.gov.uk.
Businesses interested in applying for a Kickstart scheme grant should contact East Midlands Chamber education and business partnership manager Pieter Eksteen on email@example.com or 0333 320 0333 (Ext 2241).