Is the government’s Kickstart Scheme the best way to go about hiring for you?
If you’re a small business owner, you’ve probably wondered how the Kickstart Scheme can work for you and your company. After a little research, you might have discovered that the government’s employment scheme seems to cater to big businesses first.
But thanks to the latest update, small businesses can now benefit alongside the industry giants!
But first – what is the Kickstart Scheme?
The Kickstart Scheme was designed to help young people aged between 16 and 24 and most at risk of long-term unemployment during the Covid-19 crisis find work.
Business owners that sign up can employ young people through the Kickstart Scheme for a six-month placement at no cost.
The government has dedicated £2 billion to paying the wages of every person hired through the Kickstart Scheme. So your new employees can earn National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week while you get to pay absolutely nothing.
The government also offers grants of £1,500 to every employer to cover any support or training costs.
And thanks to the latest update, small businesses can benefit from this too. Before there was a 30 placement minimum for employer applications to the scheme. Small businesses looking to employ only a few people could band together, but the process seemed much harder for them.
Now there is no minimum limit on Kickstart placements, so all employers can apply directly to the scheme. So whether you’re looking to employ 1 or 20 young people in the coming months, it’s worth applying!
What criteria do you need to meet?
There are a few things to keep in mind before you send off your application. Firstly your Kickstarter must not:
- Replace existing or planned vacancies
- Cause your employees or contractors to lose work
And the job they take on must:
- Be at least 25 hours a week for a 6 month period*
- Pay at least the National Minimum Wage
- Only require basic training
And the job must help your Kickstarter become more employable in the long-term. That will look something like:
- Career advice and goal setting
- CV support and interview preparation
- Helping them develop their skills in the workplace
*It’s worth keeping in mind that the government will only pay the wages for 25 hours a week, but you can top up your Kickstarter’s payslip yourself if you want to have them work more hours or for more money.
Who can you employ?
Not all young people can benefit from the scheme. They have to:
- Be on Universal Credit
- Be between 16 and 24 years old
- And be selected by Jobcentre Plus staff
Jobcentre Plus staff have full control over who is deemed most at risk of long-term unemployment. So you can advertise your job, but your shortlisted applicants will be those cherrypicked by Jobcentre Plus staff.
And we don’t know the criteria they use. Whether university graduates or people with some recent work experience would even qualify is a mystery.
So although you do get to choose who to hire, your list of applicants might not have much experience or skill at all.
That’s all well and good if you’re looking to take on a truly fresh junior, but if you’re looking to hire a highly-skilled candidate you might be in the wrong place.
Graduates might be registered for Universal Credit, but are they at risk of long-term unemployment? People without degrees, previous work experiences or practical skills will find it much harder to hunt for a job, so I think it’s safe to guess that you won’t see too many top university grads applying to Kickstart roles.
But if you’re looking to take on an unskilled junior for the next few months, the Kickstart Scheme could make this wish an affordable reality. But act fast, because you need to take on your Kickstarter before the end of 2021 to benefit at all.