We were delighted to see the Kickstart Scheme announced in the Chancellor’s Summer Statement.
The £2 billion scheme will provide six-month work placements for young people aged 16-24 on Universal Credit at risk of long-term unemployment.
Encouragingly for employers, funding available for each placement will cover 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated National Insurance contributions.
Kickstart is a great opportunity to find and develop talent. The Government needs to act quickly so this exciting programme benefits those who need it.
Here’s what the government should do.
Use the Job Centre Plus (JCP) Dynamic Purchasing System provider base
The government shouldn’t re-invent the wheel by creating a new network of employability support providers or intermediaries. Using the existing provider base already on the Department for Work and Pension’s (DWP) Bravo e-procurement system will take the pressure off busy JCP Work Coaches and Work and Health programme providers. These providers are already working closely with employers, and have met the standards and accreditations required by the DWP, such as the Matrix Standard.
Use labour market intelligence to invest where need is greatest
Target the sectors that need a boost after lockdown and may have staff shortages starting in the autumn. These include employment related services, education, health and social care, hospitality and logistics.
Insist on the Good Work Standard
Recent research shows that the low-paid, low-skilled and those in atypical work have been disproportionally affected by the Covid-19 crisis. A Learning and Work Institute report found that in London alone, 56% of the low paid have lower qualification levels compared to other workers and are more likely to be aged under 30. Kickstart jobs should be real contracts – not agency or zero hours. To ensure this, the government should insist employers are aligned to the principles and practices of the Good Work Standard. Kickstarters must be treated as employees, not cheap labour.
Learn from apprenticeships training
The best apprenticeship training offers a model for effective support for the Kickstart cohorts. This involves regular reviews, ongoing careers advice, a focus on workplace behaviours, skills and knowledge, as well as great coaching and mentoring from employers.
Encourage positive destinations after Kickstart
The scheme will have failed if participants are left unemployed on completion of their six-month placements. To avoid this, employers must be encouraged to join up programmes and offer progression routes. For example, participants could move into apprenticeships – providing an appropriate progression, while enabling employers to benefit from the apprenticeship levy transfer and incentives.
Align to employer best practice on equalities, diversity and inclusion (EDI)
Kickstart is a great opportunity to align recruitment practices to the EDI agenda, fill gaps in the workforce and bring in new talent.
By acting now, using the existing DWP provider infrastructure to quickly mobilise this exciting programme, its potential can truly be realised.
In July 2020 we launched our new Partners and Employers Network (PEN), for commissioners and employers who are committed to achieving better outcomes for learners and our clients. You can join the network here.
Asi Panditharatna, Divisional Director, Employment Services
The Forward Trust’s Employment Services delivers information, advice and guidance (IAG) services, vocational training, employability, enterprise and apprenticeships.
We also support and develop social enterprises. In 2020 we were awarded the Matrix Standard for IAG services and were a finalist in the ERSA Employability Awards.