When the £2 billion Kickstart Scheme launched in September to create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people across the country, it received a welcome response from the business world.
The 6-month work placements, open to those aged 16-24 claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment, was planned to offer thousands of the first placements from November.
With 23.1% of people aged 16 to 64 in South Yorkshire economically inactive, a figure set to worsen because of the impact of the pandemic, the scheme is seen as a great opportunity for young people out of work to develop new and stable careers, as well as for employers to address skills gaps, futureproof their organisation and train the next generation in their field.
However, the stated timeframe for DWP to make placements has not been met, and the Sheffield City Region’s public and private sectors have come together to urge Government to fix the flaws in the Kickstart scheme after businesses across South Yorkshire have been left waiting for placements and young people have been left without work or opportunity.
The team at Doncaster Chamber of Commerce have been working with businesses throughout to offer help and support but acknowledge that there are delays in the system.
Doncaster Chamber Business and Education Executive Asa Buckley said, “We need to keep the momentum moving forward to ensure that businesses are supported with quicker turnaround times.
“We have fostered a good relationship with DWP nationally and regionally which should quicken up the process moving forward. There is a light at end of tunnel as the first batch of placements have been approved, and we are working closely with those who have been unsuccessful.
“However, we urge a more rapid response and ask that the Government address the delays to provide young people across the region with work, skills and opportunities.”
Pete Lowes, Managing Director of Humana Ltd. In Doncaster, said: “As soon as we learned about the kickstart initiative, we were very keen to reach out and understand how we could help. Providing long-term career opportunities for local people at risk of long-term unemployment aligns completely with our core values. We’re in a position to train people with incredibly valuable skills which they can then build upon within their future career with us.
“Our initial enthusiasm was dulled a little in light of the extensive wait for a response to our application, but support from Doncaster Chamber has been fantastic. It’s disappointing for businesses such as ours to have to wait several months to hear back on the scheme when we’re ready and waiting to improve the prospects of young people in our area, but hopefully we’ll finally be able to recruit in to the placements in the new year.”