Kickstarting careers

Councils are backing a government scheme to boost learning and job opportunities for young people, and have suggested ways to maximise its effectiveness.

The Government’s Kickstart job creation programme has the potential to deliver much-needed local opportunities for young people hard hit by the pandemic.

So it’s no surprise that councils have got behind this and become the trusted local ‘go to’ organisation. They know how best to support young people into work or learning, are in a good position to help local employers develop work placements, and are trusted to deliver the wraparound support for employers and young people so both can get the most out of the work placement. 

Kickstart will work best for young people, businesses, and communities if planned, promoted and delivered in partnership, which is why councils’ role is so crucial, either as a ‘gateway’ organisation or signposting for those interested. When we knew the Government was considering a job creation programme, we put forward suggestions on how it could work to best effect for young people, employers and the local economy. 

For Kickstart to fulfil its potential, young people need a coordinated post-16 local offer so it’s clear what Kickstart is and how it connects with other local and national initiatives, backed up by impartial, local careers advice and guidance. A personal action plan is vital to help them get the best out of the placement, for example, training, pre-employment and wraparound support. Kickstart should feel like a job, with a record of achievement and a bankable transferable skill. Also vital is in-placement support to help them hold on to a job and, after placement, to find alternative routes if the employer is unable to help them further. 

“Kickstart will work best for young people, businesses, and communities if planned, promoted and delivered in partnership, which is why councils’ role is so crucial”

Employers are expected to support a range of national work placement schemes. The Government should do more to explain how Kickstart fits with other programmes and explore how incentives can help employers take on young people with more complex needs.

They need a named, local contact and a trusted local network to help work through issues. Despite the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP’s) recent decisions to stop applications for further gateways, and remove thresholds allowing any employer to apply to it direct, employers still prefer to go through trusted council ‘gateway’ routes, given their added value, including recruitment support, pastoral support and pre-employment and in-work training.

Local economies need leadership and coordination, as uncoordinated national recovery initiatives risk creating a turbulent jobs market. As local economies lose more jobs, the creation of decent, in-demand jobs – including in health and social care, housing, low carbon and logistics – is vital. Councils have joined up the Kickstart conversation locally, bringing together DWP, employers, local chambers, training providers and the third sector. This is where councils come into their own. 

We encourage the DWP to work with us early on as it evolves Kickstart, and urge ministers to consider extending Kickstart to non-Universal Credit claimants (16 to 17-year-olds and older young people, including care leavers).The scheme should also be continued beyond the current cut-off point of December 2021.

An LGA paper, ‘Kickstart: what good looks like’, which aims to support local and national discussions on the design, commissioning and delivery of Kickstart, is available at bitly.ws/bLyg

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