The talented future workforce of the country is being created within the heart of Shropshire, a programme provider said today.
Kickstart was recently launched by the Government as a way of boosting job opportunities for out-of-work 16 to 24-year-olds.
The Adult Learning Improvement Network (ALIN), based at Longden on Tern, is a Gateway for Kickstart which has submitted applications to provide jobs for more than 160 young people so far.
ALIN, launched in 2003, provides up-to-date bespoke consultancy support and training across all industries and jumped at the chance to become a leader in the UK Kickstart Jobs Scheme as a Gateway organisation - the official link for Kickstart between businesses and Shropshire Jobcentres.
Kerry Boffey, director of ALIN, with over 20 years in further and higher education and training, said she was so proud of the businesses who had stepped up to create the opportunities for these young people but knows there are plenty more who could.
She said many businesses and organisations were initially put off as the headline news was that the business had to offer 30 placements but through the ALIN Gateway programme, a business can offer just one job and the team at ALIN complete all of the administration, the applications and selection process and offer training for the successful young people.
“The Kickstart scheme is a game changer for so many young people. Could you imagine being a school-leaver or a graduate and being on Universal Credit during the pandemic? They could not feel any further away from a career or employment. It could break many people before they even started experiencing working life.
“However the Kickstart will give them the chance to learn invaluable skills and that will help them to progress into a career, full time work or further education at the end of the six months. It could be the start of a job for life or a stepping stone into an industry they would not have otherwise had the chance to consider.
“For employers it isn’t about being able to offer them a job at the end but giving them the best opportunity here and now.
“Those six months could be life changing for a young person - they may be inspired by the MD to follow in his or her footsteps; they may leave with customer service skills they didn’t have before; marketing skills; IT skills they could utilise in another business or a CV and interview skills and confidence they wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
Ben Vaughan, Shropshire employer manager at Oswestry Jobcentre Plus, said: “Job Centre Plus’s younger jobseekers aged between 16 and 24 have so much to offer, and the Kickstart scheme will see new roles created in many exciting sectors including digital marketing and social media.
“These jobs will allow participants to develop their work based skills and experience to support them on their career path forward, giving them opportunities within industries that without the Kickstart scheme, wouldn’t be possible. With so many younger jobseekers keen for an opportunity with a new employer, it’s so exciting to see so many vacancies in the pipeline.
“The Kickstart scheme is a fantastic opportunity for our local businesses to take on a younger jobseeker, and for our young people who are ready to make their mark and contribute to the workforce economy.”
Mrs Boffey said businesses, regardless of size or type of industry could certainly utilise the Kickstart scheme.
“It’s about thinking outside of the box to realise how exciting the potential really is - consider what an additional resource could do for the business - the flexibility that extra person could bring. It’s the chance to do something over and above what they are doing already in the business.
“The scheme is all about creating a new role that wouldn’t be there without Kickstart and without this funding, so for businesses who are struggling, have gone through Covid or really had tough times to suddenly get that new person coming in to do some of those specific roles is great.”
She said the levels of redundancies in the younger age range were increasing and Shropshire businesses had a responsibility to help change this.
“Kickstart will ‘leapfrog’ young people into new and exciting opportunities that without the Kickstart scheme would not be available,” she added.
“Many young people have high levels of competency in their digital ability and digital skills so a lot of the roles we are working on with employers focus on the digital world, about raising online profile and social media awareness.
“The 16-24 age group we are talking about have grown up with mobile phones, social media, apps and such amazing technology and would be a good fit for these types of roles.
“At ALIN, it is more than an application process - it is about ensuring the young people get the most out of their six months,” Mrs Boffey said.
“The 6 months programme is long enough for the young person to really understand the business and get good lengthy work experience, but short-term enough for the employer to get a real injection of enthusiasm, find out about the candidate and give that young person a bit of a kickstart for their career.
“The experience means the young person at the end of the Kickstart programme will have recently been employed and will have repositioned themselves in the order of who comes next which is why it’s a great programme.”
“As a Kickstarter Gateway we are going to carry out an external assessment and plan to do a Gallup strengthsfinder - so it’s a professional programme they will be getting involved in that will really benefit the young people and raise awareness of their employability strengths.
“As a Gateway we are very proud to be offering something better. Partnering with Resilient Pilot, we will be highlighting the Importance of mentoring, how we need to build resilience in these young people, focus on their next role, and we will do an element of digital marketing with them so they will all be exposed to the importance of safeguarding online, doing things correctly as an employee and GDPR.
“Employers will benefit, Kickstart candidates are going to benefit, we as the Gateway will be in the good position to know what these youngsters need and we will keep track of them during the six months.”
Firms signing up for the scheme will have salary, pension contribution and National Insurance contributions of the applicant funded by the Government and Mrs Boffey said ALIN’s involvement would be different to other gateway organisations.
“What we are doing is different in the respect of the wraparound support we are providing - a package working with the local job centres in Shropshire to understand these candidates,” she added.
“We would do a pre-assessment interview online and then forward the candidate we think is right for the employer, saving employers valuable time and increasing success of the scheme. We will also feedback to the Kickstarter to help them succeed next time.
“Every month the successful applicant will get a session of training, we find out how they are doing and towards the end of the six months we do an extra assessment over and above what DWP is asking for.
“We will then make sure we have got these strengths and their recent employment experience woven into their CV so they have a very accurate CV ready for their next career move. We are very much about support all the way through.
“In terms of the employer, we will hold a discovery meeting so we can understand their business better, understand their business needs and align it to DWP requirements which will make a difference and increase their chances of approval.
“The scheme is an exciting opportunity for businesses and young people looking for a boost in getting into work - and we are delighted to be playing a role in it.”
Businesses wanting to get involved can get more information from ALIN at https://alin.org.uk/kickstart/ or email [email protected]