You might have heard about The Kickstart Scheme – a programme that provides funding to employers to create jobs for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit. Today, we’d like to provide information about how your business could benefit from the scheme, and share some thoughts and experiences from an MI retailer and manufacturer who has directly utilised The Kickstart Scheme to train and retain a new member of staff.
What is The Kickstart Scheme?
The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to create new 6-month jobs for 16- to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment. Thousands of employers across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors have already applied for funding, which covers:
- 100% of the National Minimum Wage or the National Living Wage for 25 hours per week for a total of 6 months
- associated employer National Insurance contributions
- minimum automatic enrolment pension contributions
- a grant of £1,500 per job to cover setup costs and employability support.
Why should you apply for Kickstart?
- You will have a young person working for you for six months, funded by the Government.
- Your business will be set to benefit, flourish and grow by taking on these young people full of energy, new ideas and digital know-how.
- You will be able to give a young person who has been unemployed for a while a potentially life changing opportunity.
- You will feel you are playing your part in helping with the wider post-pandemic economic recovery.
How do I find out more and apply?
You can apply directly online or through a Kickstart gateway, which will act as an intermediary and apply for funding on your behalf.
The Department for Work and Pensions is running a series of webinars to introduce employers to the benefits of the Kickstart Scheme. Following an overview of the scheme, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. Webinars will be held weekly on Microsoft Teams. To attend, register for free on Eventbrite.
Get your application in soon. Apply by October for the best opportunity to take advantage of the Kickstart Scheme. For more information and how to apply visit gov.uk/kickstart.
You can also download the Kickstart Scheme: A Guide for Employer prospectus. This contains helpful information for businesses who may not have considered the scheme before, and case studies from employers, gateways and young people.
Direct MI experience of The Kickstart Scheme
We spoke to Tim Lobley, Managing Director of Sound Affects Music, a rapidly growing musical instrument retailer; on the street and online. Tim is also the International Sales Director for Cream T Pickups, a company that specialises in hand-wound boutique guitar pickups. Tim shares his experience with utilising the Kickstart Scheme.
“Our experience of the Kickstart Scheme has been overall very good, but we may have just got lucky, and I think that it may have run its course in it’s current format.
We applied for the scheme in 2020 when it was first launched. As a retail business impacted by various lockdowns it was March 2021 before we were able to take someone on. We actually only got offered two candidates in total, but the first person we interviewed was exactly what we were looking for.
We had created a new role that grouped a bunch of tasks that always got left until last, or weren’t done very well – but were all important. I felt it was letting our business down not doing these things as well as we could, be needed to prove to myself that it was commercially viable to employ somebody. The Kickstart scheme seemed a great way to do it and I have always believed in investing in young people and helping them to grow.
It’s important to stress that the scheme is not intended to replace existing roles, it has to be an incremental resource to improve/enhance/increase your business.
It’s also worth saying that like any staff member, you get out what you put in (provided you have recruited correctly). If you view it as short team free labour, it probably won’t work out. We invested time in training the individual and from day one we set out to support them so they turn this opportunity into a long term role/career.
We offered a 25 hour contract, fixed for 6 months. The Government fund 6 months salary NI pension etc and also provide £1500 to help with setup costs (training and equipment etc). We used the lump sum to buy a laptop, some essential software, H&S training and a First Aid course. We pay the wages through payroll as normal and we then get a payment back each month about 6 weeks later.
We are now approaching the six-month mark where funding stops. We intend to offer our Kickstart a full-time role as he has really proved his worth.
So far so good…..
I am also involved with a manufacturing business within MI that is growing significantly. We decided to take on two Kickstarters within this business. The process was commenced early this year and to date, we have only been offered one candidate, who again was of sufficient calibre for us to offer them a role. No other candidates have come forward since May this year. The well has run dry….
The aim of this scheme is to get people into work that otherwise may have struggled. Given the number of vacancies in hospitality at the moment, I guess it’s no surprise that we aren’t swimming in candidates, but my local Kickstart co-ordinator advised me that they currently have 180 vacancies in our area and no suitable candidates. At one level this is great news, as the scheme appears to have done its job. It’s also worth noting that my businesses are in an area that historically has low unemployment, so this picture may differ throughout the country.
There is a small glimmer of hope in that this years college leavers have not really hit the market yet. I understand that the parents of this cohort receive a Child Benefit run-off payment until around the middle of September and it is more lucrative for their child to remain out of employment until the final payment. So there may be a small pool of candidates become available in mid September, but I would not bank on it.
So, the Kickstart scheme has served me well in two businesses, but I think it needs a tweak to make it available to a wider group of candidates. I think it has run its course in the current format – certainly for my area. I am not holding my breath though and until something changes, I am going to go straight to market for my staffing needs.
If you are thinking of going down this route I would suggest contacting your local employment office and ask them if they have a bank of candidates before you complete all the paperwork….”
-Tim Lobley, Sounds Affects Music & Cream T Pickups.