COVID-19 has affected us all in ways no one could have predicted – but you don’t need to be told that. Something that we do need to talk about, however, is how the pandemic continues to affect businesses and young people, and how the Kickstart Scheme can help us all get back on our feet.
I’m Danny, a Digital Communications Assistant for the York & North Yorkshire LEP – and by extension, the Y&NY Growth Hub – and one of three Kickstarters brought on by them this year. My Kickstart journey is just one of many success stories, but is a personal experience that reflects and feeds into others as we explore the benefits of the initiative.
Kickstarting the Journey
After graduating from university, I soon realised how competitive the careers landscape is. Job searching frustrated me, so I instead ventured into freelancing to carve my own path. When COVID-19 struck, I was one of many people hit hard by it. The indefinite ceasing of operations of all my clients killed my budding career.
Knowing I had to get back on my feet as the chaos of the pandemic began to settle, I applied for Universal Credit. I worked with my Job Coach to find employment, but nothing was falling into place. I knew I had skills, but I didn’t feel confident enough to go for potential opportunities because of my lack of experience with a company.
Thankfully, my Job Coach recommended the Kickstart Scheme to me. The initiative promised to improve my employability skills, as well as offered me the chance at a six-month placement in a role that felt tailored to my skillset. A chance like this was one I couldn’t pass up.
Before the scheme, I’d been out of work for around nine months, and only had experience working alone. I wanted to get back into work, but the idea of working in a team was daunting. The Kickstart Scheme demystified my fears by being accessible, informative, and the perfect first step.
As part of the scheme, I enrolled on a course that taught me about CV writing, performing well in job interviews, and working in a team. When it came to filling out the job application and preparing for an interview, I went into it with a confidence that was missing not even a week before the course.
Now I feel like a valuable asset to employers. Taking the reins for projects and getting a chance to show off my skills has pushed me to be the best I can be. At first, I wondered if being on a part-time placement meant I’d not be involved with much of the vital work the LEP does – I’m glad to have been proven wrong. I’ve enjoyed contributing to the company, and completing work that informs important developments. Having that responsibility has challenged me in ways that have been beneficial to the LEP and myself, teaching me how to adapt my skills to work, and proving how much I have to offer.
Kickstarting the Future
Being involved in the Kickstart Scheme has given me the opportunity to understand what I want to dedicate myself to. Working in the public sector as part of the LEP has made me even more focused on my desire to work towards positive change for individuals and communities. Before, I shied away from teamwork because I feared the pressure of having to ‘compete’ with more experienced people and prove I was useful to a team. Now I’m certain in what I can bring to the table.
Employers gain so much from having fresh minds within their business too. The Y&NY LEP has stated that having Kickstarters has resulted in great improvements: work that could have been neglected is being completed beyond expectations, systems are being improved, new ways of thinking are emerging. The pandemic has bled many businesses dry, and one of the best ways to invigorate them is by bringing in new blood – enthusiastic minds wanting to rebuild and boost businesses.
Many businesses praise the Kickstart Scheme. In such unprecedented times, the potential young people can bring to companies is a real shot in the arm, and bringing them on can be the perfect way to adapt your business as we recover from the COVID-19 crisis. Many have become wary of risks, but the Kickstart Scheme allows you the flexibility of developing without having to worry about resources or cash flow. Financial support and training resources are available to those who apply – with the government covering wages and offering support funding of £1,500 for every placement created – making the scheme even more accessible.
To those interested, I say take a chance. The Kickstart Scheme has proven to me that you can never go wrong if you take that leap of faith into something new. You’ll be thanking yourself for the opportunity to grow.
What are some of the benefits of the Kickstart Scheme?
- The scheme is government-funded, negating potential financial and resource-related risks for you
- Employers receive funding which covers:
- 100% of the minimum wage for 25 hours per week for a total of six months
- Associated employer National Insurance contributions
- Minimum automatic enrolment pension contributions
- Employers receive £1,500 in funding to support a Kickstarter’s training and support needs
- The option to extend the young person’s contract, allowing the scheme to serve as an ‘extended interview’
- There is no commitment to keep the young person on beyond the six months, either – it’s a flexible, no-loss scheme
- A fresh perspective in your business, which could improve the way you work and possibly open up new audiences and markets
- The addition of an enthusiastic mind into your business, who will be eager to contribute to your work and learn on the job
- You gain new skills and knowledge from young people, such as digital, social media and marketing skills, among others
- It’s much-needed support as we recover from the pandemic, allowing you to adapt your business to our current climate
- You will be helping others who have been affected by the pandemic and unemployability, giving them a chance at recovery
Want to learn more?
For more information on the Kickstart Scheme and how to get involved, visit the Kickstart Scheme .gov page. You can also read the Y&NY LEP article covering the scheme, which talks about how it benefits us all, and provides further resources and contacts for businesses.
The Department of Work and Pensions is hosting a free online event to show employers in the York and North Yorkshire region what benefits they can gain from the initiative, and how they can help young people. The free event will take place on Friday 16th July. Learn more about the event and how to sign up here.
To find out more about the Growth Hub’s business support and what initiatives your business can get involved with, get in touch today.
Further resources & points of contact
The Kickstart Scheme has become more accessible than ever, with many resources and points of contact available to you. Gateway organisations can help you apply for the scheme, provide training to your Kickstarters, and are ready to discuss what will work best for your business. Many gateways are available for you to talk to, with the organisations below already working with many businesses across the region. They are happy to assist you on your Kickstart journey.
North Yorkshire County Council
Richmondshire District Council
NYBEP (North Yorkshire Business Education Partnership)
Phone: 01904 567616
Yorkshire in Business
Call Jenn Crowther at: 01723 588000
Contact Hannah Prole at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pegasus Search and Selection
Contact Sinead McKervey via email: email@example.com
Mobile: 07398 166272
FSB & Adecco Working Ventures
Embracing Future Potential
Contact Calvin Bowers at: firstname.lastname@example.org