The first phase of the government’s Kickstart Scheme is to come to an end early for any new employers that may have been interested. The initiative offered funding to create job opportunities for 16 to 24-year-olds and it is believed that up to 300,000 young people have been placed through the scheme since it began in August last year, with hundreds finding placements through Gloucestershire’s Kickstart Support.
Kickstart provides six-month job placements for young people who are on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. The funding covered the national minimum wage for a 25-hour working week, employer National Insurance payments and automatic enrolment contributions.
Cirencester’s Apprenticeship Management Group is behind EDA Apprenticeship Plus and set up Kickstart Support to aid companies it works for in understanding and getting the most from the scheme. AMG director John Henry says: “The jury is out on whether Kickstart was a complete success as there were a number of administration issues at the outset, as well as a lack of candidates due to the job market remaining buoyant when mass redundancies were anticipated, which prevented the government’s target for 600,000 placements being reached. Many young people have however, benefited through this initiative by gaining an employed position, often for the first time in their lives. It is a real boost for the individuals to gain experience and new skills while the employer gets to expand their employment base. Many may go on to permanent positions.”
The issue now is how to replace Kickstart as a route to recruit for the employer and begin a fulfilling career for many thousands of young people that have been so disadvantaged over the past two years. With the team in place around the country AMG has experienced a huge increase in apprenticeship vacancies and would urge employers to take advantage of the current incentives to complement their offers of employment.
With over a million jobs lost to COVID-19, repatriation to Europe and Brexit, businesses are seeking to fill essential roles in a market where two jobs exist for every applicant. This is a unique environment for all British industry and a challenge to every employer looking to recruit and expand with every sector experiencing serious issues in recruiting and training staff.
Apprenticeships Plus is an initiative that has successfully addressed many of these issues and has clearly demonstrated that by attaching government funded training to the job role, recruitment of the best candidates is considerably improved. Indeed, businesses that have struggled to attract any employees have enjoyed the option of the best and most capable individuals looking for a career.