Business West welcomes the extension to the Government’s Kickstart work scheme announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak MP at this year’s Conservative Party Conference (Tuesday 5 October). Business West is a gateway organisation for smaller employers in the region who can create funded Kickstart work placements lasting 6 months at 25 hours a week.
Speaking today, Nicky Williams, Head of Skills said “Kickstart is a chance for employers to offer new opportunities for young people across our region, and for the successful candidates to benefit from a 6-month placement paid (at least) at the National Minimum Wage. By extending the scheme to the end of March 2022, further opportunities for recovery can be created and filled as our labour market recovers from the impact of the pandemic.”
However, Business West do have concerns about the scheme’s operations to date. From the outset, there have been substantial time delays between employers expressing an interest to create a vacancy position within the scheme and getting this through the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) system and onto their vacancy portal. In addition, more support is required from the DWP for the young person wanting to apply for the roles.
Nicky Williams added further:
“The DWP work coaches, based in local Job Centre Plus offices, are tasked with helping young people to apply for the roles, but many of these young people need further additional support to build their confidence up to take a step into employment, given the impact COVID-19 has had on young people’s confidence and mental health. We have had great success with our employability wraparound support, but it’s the pre-employment support that is missing.”
According to the latest figures, only 5,080 of the total 14,400 placements created in wider South West region have been filled as of 22nd September.
Business West calls on the Government to work with employers and gateway organisations to improve both the flow and speed of Kickstart roles being posted onto the portal and filled quickly to maximise the benefits of the extension for our region and across the UK. The scheme’s promotion to eligible young people and encouragement to apply via youth support organisations requires greater focus in the remaining period of the scheme.
The new deadlines are:
-Kickstart approved vacancies to reach the portal by 16 December 2021
-Kickstart approved roles to commence on or before 31 March 2022