YOUTH and inexperience, against the backdrop of a global pandemic, have led many young people to struggle to get onto a career ladder, reports Nadia Jefferson-Brown.

Employers are being urged to sign up to a youth job scheme to help improve the lives and prospects of the next generation of workers in York and North Yorkshire.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is hosting the free online event for local businesses to showcase the benefits of the government’s £2bn Kickstart scheme.

The event is on Friday, July 16, between 10am and 11am via Microsoft Teams and employers can sign up at Event Brite.

York Press:

Harry Taylor is doing a Kickstart placement with Woody’s Ice Cream.

Kickstart was set up in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and aims to provide high-quality, paid six-month job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit, to help them develop skills and work experience to move into sustained employment.

For employers taking part, the Government covers 100 per cent of the National Minimum Wage for up to 25 hours per week for each placement.

They will also cover National Insurance payments and any pension contributions. Funding of £1,500 is also provided to cover the costs of employability training and on-the-job start-up costs.

Wendy Mangan, of York Jobcentre Plus, said: “By creating Kickstart job placements, employers will be making a real difference to someone’s life. This is a fantastic opportunity for young people to enter the world of work, fully supported by many of our local employers who are providing an amazing range of roles.”

Employers from all industries and sectors have already got involved in creating opportunities within their businesses, from engineering assistants to junior personal trainers, autocad technicians and events assistants.

York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership have worked with the DWP to support Kickstart.

Sam Alexander, chair of the LEP’s skills and employability board, said: “Kickstart is a great opportunity for businesses across the region to increase their capacity whilst offering a young person vital work experience and an opportunity to develop workplace skills.

"It’s been great to see local employers getting involved with the scheme and many are already feeling the benefits.”

Tom Howard, 19, from Selby, has been working as a junior administrator at White Rose Finance in York since April as part of Kickstart.

He said: “Before I secured this placement I had been to so many interviews and not got the jobs. The feedback was always the same – they were impressed with my confidence and attitude but because of my age and lack of relevant experience they just couldn’t offer me the job. Once I have finished this placement I know that will have changed.”

Rob Collins, owner of Woody’s Ice Cream in York, said: “We’ve had a pretty tough year and this [Kickstart] was a real help to us. We also thought it was a great scheme that gives young people out of work an opportunity.”

Pullman Instruments (UK), one of the UK’s leaders in the calibration sector, with its head office in Harrogate, took on Kickstarter Mark White, 19, in April as a junior assistant in accounts.

Liz Foster, from Pullmans, said: “Having an extra member of the department is helping us to perform tasks in a timelier manner, and also means we are more able to cover the extra workload over periods of annual leave.”

Mark didn’t have any experience in accounts but feels the role has given him a range of skills and experience. He said: “Personally, I would highly recommend these placements as it’s an effective way to gain experience and knowledge about a job you have been thinking about making a career in.”

As smaller businesses, Woody’s, Pullman’s and White Rose Finance have all been supported throughout the Kickstart process by local Gateway organisation, North Yorkshire Business & Education Partnership (NYBEP).

Laura Mason, CEO of NYBEP, said: “Kickstart is helping to bridge a gap by supporting employers in difficult times to be able to then offer job opportunities to young people who have struggled to find employment.”

Employers interested in Kickstart can apply on the website or through a Gateway partner in North Yorkshire including: North Yorkshire County Council, Yorkshire in Business, Your Consortium, Pegasus Search and Selection, FSB/Adecco Working Ventures and Embracing Future Potential.

Joining the online event will be Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk & Malton; Jodie Dyer from North Yorkshire Hospice Care; and Keeley Metcalf, from North Yorkshire County Council, who will provide insights into in how Kickstart is making a difference to young people.

Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk & Malton, will discuss the Kickstart scheme and how it can help support employers play an active role by creating opportunities within their businesses and explain the financial support available.

Jodie Dyer, Kickstart Project Lead from North Yorkshire Hospice Care, will talk about her experience of recruiting Kickstart opportunities within her organisation and the overall experience and the quality of candidates.

Keeley Metcalf, from North Yorkshire County Council, will discuss the role of a Gateway organisation, who can support a business to apply for jobs in the Kickstart Scheme;

Dave Walkington, operational leader, DWP, will show how Kickstart has had a positive impact on young people and the benefit of the scheme to local businesses.

There will be an opportunity to put your questions forward to our panellists.

• Sign up for the free event using the link.