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East Midlands Chamber News

East Midlands Chamber passes key milestone by helping businesses recruit for 1,000 placements aimed at young people via Kickstart scheme

East Midlands Chamber has helped to facilitate more than 1,000 potential placements as part of the Kickstart scheme – helping to create jobs for young people otherwise facing unemployment due to the pandemic.

The chamber of commerce for Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire has signed up almost 340 businesses that want to take advantage of the Government programme, which will cover the cost of a six-month placement for 16 to 24-year-olds who are on Universal Credit or at risk of long-term unemployment.

Employers that want to create at least 30 placements can apply directly to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for a grant to cover the costs, but companies with fewer than 30 roles must apply via recognised gateway organisations, such as the Chamber.

To engage more businesses to create job opportunities for young people in their communities, and benefit from the additional resources offered by work placement students, the Chamber has agreed to collaborate with four local authorities in the East Midlands – and more partnerships expected to follow – to find interested employers.

It has also teamed up with accountancy firm Duncan & Toplis, a patron of the Chamber, to target thousands of its clients that may want to take advantage of the funding.

About a third of the 1,061 placements the Chamber has applied for consist of digital and technology roles, with other popular jobs include business and finance, as well as transport and storage.

Diane Beresford, deputy chief executive of East Midlands Chamber, said: “We know young people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and the huge amount of unemployment it has created, so the Kickstart scheme is an important mechanism for helping them to get the skills they need to prepare for the world of work.

“Businesses that take part will be playing a vital role in their communities by supporting and preparing our future workforce, but there are also many benefits for employers.

“As this is a fully-funded scheme, it allows organisations to trial new roles, and provides relevant training and mentoring to ensure the young person has the most up-to-date skills and knowledge. There is also a relatively risk-free opportunity to identify good-quality apprentices, opening a pathway for both the employer and employee to grow together.

 “We’re excited to be working with local authorities – either in partnership when it comes to applying on behalf of their businesses, or by holding information sessions – as we want to make sure as many companies as possible take advantage of these opportunities.”


How does the Kickstart scheme work?

The £2bn Kickstart scheme was announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak as part of his Plan for Jobs to help young people into work and spur Britain’s post-Covid economic revival.

A quarter of a million people aged under 25 have claimed unemployment benefits since March, while the unemployment rate among young people is far higher than the overall rate of 4.8%, reaching 14.6%.

The Chamber has already held four online information sessions that attracted 250 attendees, many of which are among the 340 businesses that have since registered with the Chamber to recruit for 1,061 placements. Some of these organisations have multiple vacancies.

Acting on their behalf, the Chamber applies to the DWP for funding, which pays 100% of the age-relevant National Minimum Wage, national insurance and pension contributions for 25 hours a week.

Employers can choose to top up this wage and are also eligible for a £1,500 Government grant for training people on a Kickstart placement.

The Chamber started making applications at the beginning of October. Once they are accepted, young people are referred into the roles via a Jobcentre Plus work coach. Application can be made until December 2021 initially.

Diane added: “The number of businesses that have already booked on to our information sessions shows there’s great appetite out there among businesses to take advantage of these opportunities.

“Businesses receive the full salary cost for six months, but we’re also educating them about the finer details, such as how they must provide employability skills to individuals so they will be well-equipped to land permanent jobs in the future.”


Upcoming Kickstart information sessions

A number of online information sessions will take place throughout November, featuring a welcome by the partner organisation, presentation by the Chamber’s deputy chief executive Diane Beresford and education and business partnership manager Pieter Eksteen, and a Q&A.

Upcoming online information sessions run by the Chamber, titled Kickstart Your Business: Accessing the Kickstart Programme, include:

Sessions are free to both members and non-members of the Chamber, and available to all businesses regardless of location.

Councillor Andy Abrahams, Elected Mayor of Mansfield, said: “We understand that Covid-19 has affected our communities in a variety of ways, especially regarding the younger workforce, so we’re delighted to be working with East Midlands Chamber to help support the economy and assist both businesses and workers in mitigating the negative impacts of Covid-19.”

Councillor Amanda Serjeant, deputy leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, said: “One of the council’s key aims is to ensure that Chesterfield is a thriving borough and the Kickstart scheme will open up much-needed opportunities for young people to develop their skills and careers for the future.

“There are also many benefits for our local businesses who participate in this scheme during this challenging time. Therefore, we’re encouraging businesses to engage with this fully-funded programme to offer our younger generation vital work roles that will build fundamental skills.”

Councillor Carolyn Renwick, portfolio for economic growth at North East Derbyshire District Council, said: “Due to the coronavirus, unemployment is rising across the district – in particular youth unemployment – and this initiative will support these young people in gaining invaluable work experience and an employer reference, both of which will increase their chances of securing sustained employment.”

Ian Phillips, deputy managing director at Duncan & Toplis, added: "Times are tough for businesses up and down the country, but young people – particularly people from poorer backgrounds – have been disproportionately affected by this pandemic, with jobs being lost and career opportunities being shut off to them. This is heartbreaking for young people and it also means companies lose the huge potential that younger workers can bring to a company.

“During our webinar with East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, we'll be showing businesses how they can make the best use of the Kickstart scheme to reinvigorate their businesses with ambitious and energetic young people who can help their organisations grow and thrive long into the future. Not only is this good for our communities and young people, this could also be of huge benefit to a wide range of employers and I'm looking forward to helping companies make the most of it."

To sign up, click here.


Businesses already signed up to Kickstart scheme

Chamber patron Cooper Parry IT, based in Castle Donington, has applied for four placements.

Finance director Kirstine Archer said: “The Kickstart scheme is a fantastic initiative that enables employers like us to provide invaluable paid work experience to young people at a time of economic instability.

“We pride ourselves on being a great employer and we already have a policy that actively recruits apprentices at the start of their careers. Our hope is that through the Kickstart scheme and by working in our team, we can help more young people get their first step on the career ladder.”

The Lettings & Sales Business and Fraser Stretton, two property firms in the same group based in Stoughton, Leicestershire, have applied for three roles between them.

Narinder Nijjar Singh, co-owner of the Chamber patrons, said: “The Lettings & Sales Business, alongside our sister company Fraser Stretton, is hoping to utilise the Kickstart scheme in order to be able to enhance our workforce while also being able to provide a gateway into employment for individuals looking to forge a career in property. 

“We are big advocates of recruiting professionals who don’t necessarily need to have any existing property experience as we relish being able to help develop and nurture the potential in our staff. 

“By coming in as a ‘blank canvass’, it allows us to be able to instil our ethos in the staff so they deliver the exceptional customer service that we pride ourselves on, while also being consistent in their communication and delivery of service. It’s a fantastic initiative that we are hoping will bear fruit for our organisations.”

Nick Mellors, director at Innovation Nottinghamshire, a not-for-profit company created to promote innovation, business and career opportunities in the region, said: “We have been able to create two brand new Kickstarter roles – one suitable for a first-time school leaver and one for a more technical graduate.

“They will both get real-life paid work experience for their CVs, on-the-job and online training and job search support – and we will get help setting up two new innovation projects, as well as the benefit of fresh insights and views to help us shape our business.

“As soon as we have a Covid-safe way of working, we’ll be up and running. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Sarah Newton, director of Penguin PR, a Derby-based public relations agency that wants to create bring a placement study on board, added: “Despite our initial concerns at the end of March, Penguin PR has never been busier and the latter half of the year has been unprecedented in terms of picking up new business.

“The Covid-19 recovery economy has seen us take on a new employee to keep up with the demand for our services and we are keen to build on this expansion.

“We decided to access the Kickstart Scheme to help support this growth, but without the worry of further investment.

“We also recognise that young people bring different skills to the workplace, particularly in the ever-changing world of social media, and hope that we will be able to learn as much from the Kickstarter as they will learn from us.

“It’s also pleasing to think that the scheme may give a young person the break they need, during what is increasingly becoming a challenging time to be looking for work.”