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Extra funding will extend work experience scheme

Published on Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Picture of people being helped with computer work

A SCHEME to help young people gain valuable paid work experience and improve their employment prospects has been extended thanks to additional funding.

The Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) has pledged £500,000 of funding to build on the work already done under the Government’s Kickstart scheme, which offered six-month paid work placements for 16-24 year olds who receive Universal Credit.

The LLEP funding, from its repurposed Growing Places Fund, will double the duration of Kickstart placements to 12 months, meaning more young people can gain crucial experience and skills to help them onto the employment ladder.

The new scheme will be administrated by Leicester City Council on behalf of the LLEP, and will be applied across Leicester and Leicestershire, regardless of location or current Kickstart Gateway provider.

Leicester and Leicestershire’s population of 16 to 24-year-olds is above the national average, and data gathered by the LLEP shows that young workers are more likely to be disadvantaged by any economic downturn.

Extending the duration of Kickstart job placements within Leicester and Leicestershire small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) will also give young people who have had to change occupations due to Covid-19 more opportunity to develop important job-related skills.

LLEP's 2019 Employer Skills Survey showed that 68 percent of employers in business and other services cited having relevant work experience as critical to recruitment for young people.

The extra funding follows work by the LLEP and other local partners to assess the economic impact of Covid-19 and to create a recovery plan which focused on the key priorities needed to support local businesses and people.

Kevin Harris is Chair of the LLEP Board of Directors.  He said: "Our Employers Skills Survey tells us that relevant work experience is consistently cited by employers as among the most critical factors for recruitment.

“Local young people who can give evidence of this have a greater chance of securing and sustaining employment. 

"The additional LLEP funding should greatly improve the employment prospects of young people participating in the scheme, and also helps to support local SMEs with their skills needs."

Leicester City Council has participated in the Department for Work and Pensions’ Kickstart scheme since November 2020.  As well as offering 30 jobs within the city council itself, the local authority’s role has been to act as an intermediary between applicants and local firms, putting candidates in touch with employers across Leicester who want to fill job vacancies.

Youngsters taking part in Kickstart will now be guaranteed a job for a further six months, which could also lead to apprenticeships or further work placements.

Organisations taking part will need to offer a 12-month work placement for a minimum of 25 hours per week, paying at least the minimum wage.  The jobs must be new, and of good quality, and focus on specific, detailed roles.

The DWP pays 100 percent of the age-relevant National Minimum Wage, National Insurance and pension contributions for 25 hours a week, but employers can also top up this wage. The DWP will also pay employers £1,500 for set up costs such as uniforms or training for people they take on.

Leicester assistant city mayor responsible for jobs and skills, Cllr Danny Myers, added: “I’m really pleased that we can extend the help which this scheme is offering to young people to get a foot on the employment ladder.

“Leicester is home to many thriving small and medium-sized firms in the creative industries, construction, manufacturing, tourism and hospitality, as well as health and social care and the public sector.

““By working with local firms to provide high-quality job roles, we can ensure as many young people as possible get valuable work experience and practical skills that will stand them in good stead for their futures.”

Other organisations acting as intermediaries locally include the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, some district councils and Leicestershire County Council, which is also participating as an individual employer to fill vacancies within the county council.

The Kickstart scheme is included in the wider Leicester City Council Economic Recovery Plan, which was announced at the end of 2020. It sets out the ideas and actions the council and its partners are developing to help ensure Leicester’s local economy, jobs market and businesses can remain resilient as the region emerges from the disruption of Covid-19.

The Leicester Employment Hub, which is administering the scheme, is part of the city council’s economic regeneration team, based at City Hall in Charles Street.

Partners in the hub include the Prince’s Trust, De Montfort University, Futures and Leicestershire County Council.  

Applicants and businesses wanting to find out more or to get involved can do so now through the Leicester Employment Hub here.

Details of the city council’s Economic Recovery Plan are available here.

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