East Midlands Chamber is celebrating after passing a major milestone – helping more than 1,000 young people to secure a job placement via the Kickstart Scheme.
The region’s leading business representation group has been commended by the Minister for Employment after playing a key role in assisting companies to create six-month work placements for people aged 16 to 24 who are on Universal Credit or at risk of long-term unemployment.
The Chamber is the UK’s largest and – with almost half the vacancies created resulting in a position being filled – top-performing gateway organisation, which lodges funding applications on behalf of businesses to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
It celebrated the landmark achievement by welcoming key civil servants at the DWP to the Chesterfield Jobs Fair, hosted by Chesterfield Borough Council, earlier today (15 September).
East Midlands Chamber deputy chief executive and Kickstart lead Diane Beresford, along with education and business partnership manager Pieter Eksteen, also met with Jo Macdonald, who chairs the Kickstart gateway approvals board for the DWP, to explain how the Chamber has managed to secure so many placement starts among young people.
Diane said: “Young people 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 therefore been a lifeline for them to get the skills and work experience that will be vital to their future prospects. We’re delighted with our track record in converting applications into real jobs, which have played a key role in giving young people the chance they may not have otherwise had while also enabling companies to trial new roles.
“We’re continuing to support businesses and job centres to place young people, as well as look beyond the six-month period to ensure there’s a future roadmap to full-time employment.”
How Kickstart Scheme has benefitted businesses and young people
Nick Hogan, owner of Chesterfield Escape Rooms, has hired six games masters via the Kickstart Scheme – with two other vacancies now live and an application for another position currently being processed – and joined the celebration event with Kickstart employee James Bryan.
Nick has entered into a joint venture partnership with some members of his Kickstart team to establish Chesterfield Games Quarter, which will comprise the escape rooms as well as a video games zone, virtual reality zone and the existing Geeks board game venue. Based in Soresby Street, it is due to open in October.
“I used the Kickstart scheme because I wanted to give something back to the town and create new opportunities for young people,” said Nick, who has given the team a five-figure, interest-free loan to the team to help it run the business.
“But it has also allowed me to get my foot into the market to assess the business opportunity, and has given me the confidence to now grow this into the Chesterfield Games Quarter concept.”
Freelance actor James, 22, of Chesterfield, (pictured above) is four months into his Kickstart placement at the escape rooms business after finding acting work opportunities deteriorated during the pandemic.
He said: “It’s been the opportunity of a lifetime to get involved with a new business, and gain some really valuable experience and diverse skills for my CV that will be really important for my future employability.”
How does the Kickstart Scheme work?
The DWP 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 more than 2,700 placements approved among almost 800 businesses located in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and other locations. Of these, 2,200 have resulted in vacancies being created and 1,024 of those have now been filled.
Minister for Employment Mims Davies MP said: “It’s fantastic to see that over 1,000 young people have begun their Kickstart journey thanks to the vital support from East Midlands Chamber, in a range of exciting new roles, setting them on the road for their future careers – crucially part of the over 69,000 young people who have now started these jobs.
“Our Plan for Jobs is focused on creating and spreading opportunity just like this around the UK as we push to level up across the country.”
East Midlands Chamber and Chesterfield Escape Rooms support the marketing and economic growth of the town through Chesterfield Champions, a network of over 190 organisations across Chesterfield and North Derbyshire.