The government’s Kickstart scheme is a new policy that provides funding for employers to create six-month job placements for young people who are currently on universal credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. Some companies may think this is an opportunity to secure subsidised, cheap labour, but we wouldn’t encourage that mentality because it is supposed to be an opportunity for young people to get a taste of the working world, develop their skills and make them more employable. If implemented effectively and with the right backing, the placements can offer significant advantages for organisations too.
The individuals on this scheme may not have developed technical or workplace skills, so firms will need to manage their expectations. Those considering the scheme need to give some thought to how they will facilitate a paid six-month work placement and how they will integrate the individual and support them – after all, this is a long-term commitment to bring someone into your business and add value. In order to make the best of this scheme, businesses should have a clear plan in place, whether that’s providing support themselves or working with a third party. Because the individual is paid in arrears, it’s also important to think about the cash flow impact, as payback from the government will not be immediate.
Employers should be mindful of the current crisis and how that will affect their ability to provide support. The placement can be done either face to face or remotely so, if the workplace is closed, this is not a barrier. This will be harder for some sectors than others; if you haven’t got the infrastructure for either face-to-face or remote support, then Kickstart probably isn’t for you right now.
While the scheme is very flexible, accessing it is slightly more complex depending on how many Kickstarters you want to take on. If you are a small employer offering fewer than 30 placements, you will have to go through an intermediary, such as a local authority or chamber of commerce, and form a combined bid with other businesses.
Simon Ashworth is chief policy officer at the Association of Employment and Learning Providers