Kickstart Scheme bottleneck creates jobs backlog
The government has announced that 16,500 young people have started jobs through the Kickstart Scheme, but these figures fall short of its original goal of creating 250,000 jobs.
The Kickstart Scheme has so far created 180,000 placements, but fewer than 20,000 have actually started work. It’s likely that the government will hit its goal of having 250,000 young people working through the scheme in two and a half years.
Meanwhile, The Observer reports that there is still a disproportionate number of placements in the northeast of England, with only 490 starting work there. The same trend is seen in other areas of Britain, with only 540 starting jobs in Wales and 660 in the East Midlands.
Fantastic news that 16,500 young people have now started jobs through our Kickstart scheme.
These fully-subsidised placements for 16 to 24-year-olds offer a vital first foot on the jobs ladder.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) April 27, 2021
Hit a backlog
The fully-subsidised scheme for 16 to 24 year-olds was launched in the Chancellor’s Summer Statement to much fanfare, but limiting the jobs programme for organisations with 30 placements stuttered the take up.
Small businesses that wanted to take advantage of the scheme had to do so via a gateway organisation, such as a local authority or a trade body. Since February this year, five months after the scheme launched, small businesses can now apply directly without the need of the gateway or minimum placement restrictions.
While the bureaucratic beginnings of the scheme could be behind the bottleneck, the scheme does allow businesses to stagger the start date of employment. Employers have the option to push the start date back until the expected closure of the scheme at the end of December 2021.
With non-essential businesses and hospitality gradually re-opening across the country, many Kickstart employers could be waiting on the lockdown roadmap. The jump in young people starting jobs from 5,000 last month to 16,500 follows the easing of lockdown restrictions.
Another contributing factor is the requirement for the Kickstart placements to be completely new jobs and not replacing existing or planned vacancies. With many roles still on furlough, companies may have put recruitment on hold. But despite lockdown hold-ups, The Mirror reports that even government minister Therese Coffey admits that there has been a “backlog”.
‘Not a speedy process!’
Beth Jackson, the founder of 2 Sisters Accounting, has her Kickstart placement starting next week, but she admits the process has been long and protracted.
“The fact that there is a backlog doesn't surprise me at all given how long it took us and conversations I've had with other people about their frustrations,” she told AccountingWEB.
Jackson started the application back in October when small employers had to do it via a group if they had under 30 placements.
As part of the scheme, the government will pay 100% of the Kickstarters national minimum wage or national living wage for 25 hours a week for six months. But it wasn’t until March that the job eventually went live in the Job Centre. “So not a speedy process!” commented Jackson.
Jackson pulled in about 10 CVs. She noted that it was “a massive range in the quality and suitability”. “We booked interviews with three people, and one was a no show on the interview.”
The scheme was set up as a safety net for young people on universal credit and facing long time unemployment. Employers offering a placement will be eligible for £1,500 funding to cover costs associated with the development of the 16-24-year-olds employability skills and setup costs.
The 2020 Accounting Excellence New Firm of the Year finalist plans on helping her Kickstarter brush up their skills on "a bit of everything" from admin, bookkeeping, tax returns, as well as socials and anything else they can think of. And she already assigned her Kickstarter the task of editing her firm’s video output.
“She said during her interview her goal is to open her own business one day. If we can help mentor her towards that while she works with us I'd say we've achieved something pretty great!”