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18 Jul 2022

East Midlands Chamber helps create jobs for 160 young people in the region under Kickstart Accelerator

East Midlands Chamber has helped more than 160 young people in the region to find long-term employment through its Kickstart Accelerator project.

After supporting more than 900 businesses to create over 2,000 placements as a gateway organisation for the Kickstart Scheme – created by the Government to help 16 to 24-year-olds gain work experience after Covid-19 lockdown restrictions resulted in high youth unemployment – the chamber of commerce has continued these partnerships to turn these roles into long-term jobs.

The Kickstart Accelerator – which is a key strand of the umbrella East Midlands Accelerator – is part-funded by the Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund, led by the local authority in each region, and delivered by the Chamber and its partners.

So far, there have been 59 new starters in the city of Nottingham, 29 in North Nottinghamshire, 28 in Leicester city, 37 in the Derbyshire Dales and 11 in High Peak.

There are a few notable differences to the original Kickstart Scheme. While candidates continue to be people aged 16 to 24 who are on Universal Credit or at risk of long-term unemployment, the positions created under the Kickstart Accelerator are not six-month placements to help candidates get work ready – rather, they offer jobs lasting at least a year.

East Midlands Chamber deputy chief executive and Kickstart lead Diane Beresford said: “Kickstart is a true success story for the Chamber. Our original Kickstart Scheme alone outperformed other regions by placing over 2,000 individuals. We’re now continuing that success in UK Community Renewal Fund areas under our East Midlands Accelerator.

“Participating businesses must commit to employing their Kickstart candidates for at least 12 months, which gives young candidates a significant amount of time to learn and embed the skills needed for a successful career.

“The Kickstart Accelerator has allowed employers to not only recruit new candidates where they might not otherwise have had the means to do so, but also keep on candidates after their original Kickstart Scheme placement.”

“It’s another way in which the Chamber is supporting those businesses that are doing great work but need more staff to help them get to the next level.”

Kickstart Accelerator case studies

Blue Stamp Travel Ltd, Nottingham

Businesses that are unique in their offer often find their early growth is fast paced. So it has been the case for education tour operator Blue Stamp Travel Ltd, which offers language and work experiences abroad for the 16-plus age group.

Natalie Fraser, a 22-year-old from Radcliffe-on-Trent, was one of three exceptional candidates taken on by the business under the original Kickstart Scheme. Support from the Kickstart Accelerator means Natalie can be retained on a longer-term contract to continue her valuable efforts in more targeted, and regular, social media and marketing – in turn, reinforcing a strong brand.

Steve Manderson, owner and managing director, said: “The direct result of Natalie’s work has been a very tangible increase in the number of direct enquiries as well as improved Google page rankings. Both have led to increased business.

“More indirectly, without the added capacity and skills that Natalie brings, I wouldn’t have been able to partner in so many bids for the latest round of Turing funding (the UK’s new programme for studying, working and living abroad, offering opportunities for personal and professional student development). If all were to come to fruition, this would have a truly transformative impact on the scale and reach of our business.”

Natalie added: “Not only have I developed many new skills and abilities, I’ve gained valuable knowledge about the industry. My daily tasks require me to be creative and organised, as well as efficient in completing tasks on time. Blue Stamp Travel is a great company to be part of, and I am thankful for the chance to continue working with them.”

The Clay Rooms, Ashbourne

The Clay Rooms in Ashbourne has benefited from the Kickstart Accelerator in two ways –  allowing the business to keep on 24-year-old Asbourne resident Minnie Reed when her original Kickstart placement came to an end, and to take on new Kickstarter, 24-year-old Joe Low from Wirksworth.

Both employees work as retail and workshop assistants, but are also bringing a higher level of skill to the business. For Minnie, this is putting her creative degree background to good use through social media activity, and is complemented by Joe’s skills in photography.

Joint owner Sarah Heaton said: “Before we got involved in the first Kickstart, we had never employed anyone in the business. Having Minnie and Joe on board has allowed my co-owner Helen and me to let go of certain areas like looking after the shop and use our time more productively.

“Having the time to work on our strategy is hugely important for the business as the high street faces the challenge of reduced consumer spend.”

As well as benefitting from the Kickstart strand of the East Midlands Accelerator project, The Clay Rooms has also received a £2,000 growth voucher. This will cover the costs of the first print run of a new, free arts magazine before it switches to a paid advertising model.

Minnie added: “I was initially unemployed after completing my undergraduate degree last summer. Joining The Clay Rooms has not only allowed me to join a creative environment, it’s given me the opportunity to undertake a role involving different responsibilities, some of which I had never experienced. It’s certainly increased my range of skills and given me greater confidence in the workplace.”

MVIP Bros Ltd, Leicester

Like many others in the hospitality industry, MVIP Bros Ltd is facing a perfect storm of rising raw material and labour costs, as well as a shortage of trained staff. A competitive marketplace means it is hard to justify passing on these costs to the customer. A solution needed to be found that would not only allow the business to offer long-term stability to existing staff, but recruit quality staff in an affordable way.

The business first used the Kickstart Scheme to offer a work placement to 20-year-old Diseworth resident Pippa Gillis. Considered efficient, hardworking, reliable and – importantly for hospitality – flexible, Pippa quickly became an important team member.

The Kickstart Accelerator has allowed the business to move Pippa into a full-time position, and she is being trained to step up from her current role of team player to team leader and keyholder.

The restaurant’s second candidate, Hamza Albalkhi, a 29-year-old from Loughborough, owes his first opportunity in hospitality to Kickstart.

MVIP Bros owner Mohammed Vhora said: “If our business is given the choice between taking on someone with experience and someone without, the former will always win because they can hit the ground running.

“Without that vital experience of our trade, it can take new recruits up to two months to get fully up to speed – not only in productivity, efficiency and communication, but also in the ways we choose to operate as a business and how we meet our KPIs. For someone working 40 to 50 hours per week, that’s an additional investment of circa £500.

“With the support of Kickstart, we have been able to fund the training period needed for inexperienced new starters like Hamza, and offer candidates like Pippa longer-term career progression.

“It’s clear to our business – and I’m sure to many others – that, without schemes like Kickstart, those young people who lack work experience are never given the opportunity to learn, and it becomes harder then to escape that cycle of worklessness.

“It’s been really rewarding for all concerned in our business that we can play an important part in improving the life chances of young people – at the same time deriving a clear benefit for our business.”