The government’s announcement last week of a new “kickstart” scheme, to subsidise wages for 16-24 year olds for six months, will hopefully be of benefit to both young people and businesses in the UK. Precise details have been slow to emerge, but we have compiled some of the most important information on the scheme and some of our ideas on how your business can make the most of it.
How will the scheme work?
According to the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, the scheme is primarily aimed at young people with limited skills who would otherwise struggle to get into employment. As part of the kickstart scheme, they will work with Jobcentre work coaches and other providers for 13 weeks to become “work ready” and then start a work placement for the next 13 weeks of the six month scheme, with the aim of a permanent job or apprenticeship at the end. The participants on the scheme will not be eligible for an apprenticeship while on the scheme and the jobs must be shown to be new – so companies will not be able to replace existing staff with cheap labour.
This means that although the participants on the scheme will be free to employ, any company taking them on will have to invest in mentoring and training them to get the full benefit. Companies that are looking to hire someone who can make an immediate impact would probably be better off taking advantage of the new £2,000 bonus for taking on an apprentice.
Who can we expect to be our 16-24 year olds kickstarters?
Although this isn’t very clear at the moment, some of the early government discussions have suggested that to be eligible for the kickstarter scheme, the 16-24 year old must be claiming Universal Credit and at ‘risk of long term unemployment’. In May, there were almost 500,000 16-24 year olds who were claiming Universal Credit. The Treasury expects 200,000 of these to be the first cohort to join the scheme. They also said, “these people will be identified by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) coaches, using a flexible and tailored approach to assess the individual’s needs”.
What roles could they be suitable for in your business?
Kickstarters may not come in with all the skills and knowledge required for the job you may want them to do. However, they may have transferable skills that they have gained through their education and part time jobs, that will facilitate a smooth transition to picking up the skills needed to work efficiently in the role they have been hired for.
How do I hire a kickstarter?
At the moment, the government hasn’t released enough information about this, however, our assumption is that you as a business would have to apply for the scheme, and you would then be referred candidates via jobcentres. If you are interested in this scheme, we would suggest you keep a close eye on gov.uk for when the information is released.
How can I upskill kickstarters?
Here are a few ideas:
1. Buddy scheme: A buddy scheme allows for onboarding and sharing of knowledge to orient new employees. The kickstarter could be buddied up with an employee who has been with the company for at least a year, who could teach them the ways of working, answer any questions informally and thus help them settle into the workplace and pick up new skills faster. You could see the benefits of having a buddy scheme in place for the kickstarter through enhanced productivity and increased job satisfaction. This could also help in building an immediate personal connection between the kickstarter and the organisation – much needed for a short term placement!
2. Mentoring scheme: A mentoring scheme is a more formal 1-2-1 relationship (compared to the buddy scheme) and can be created between the kickstarter and a more senior employee or a manager. This will allow the mentees to understand the more formal structures, process and procedures of the business. It will also allow the mentee and mentor to raise any formal concerns they might have regarding their placement and provide feedback. Along with this, your business could use the mentoring scheme as a lucrative opportunity to hire the most talented kickstarters by giving them the chance to build their network and learn more about the field they are interested in.
3. Regular in-house training sessions: Setting up regular in-house training sessions for your kickstarters throughout their placement could prove highly beneficial for both them and your business. These training sessions could be conducted virtually by existing senior employees or your L&D team and they could cover topics that would help provide the kickstarters with both a holistic idea of their role within the company and the detailed day to day tasks that need to be carried out in that role. This will help ensure they are ready to work as efficiently as possible and understand their responsibilities. Regular training throughout the programme will ensure they are confident in the work they are doing, minimising any risks or errors.
4. Sign up to free online courses: If you feel your kickstarter does not have the necessary skills or knowledge required to complete the job, you could overcome this barrier to employing them by setting them up on a free course, and ask them to complete this before their first day at work. You can find some free courses here.