The Kickstart job creation scheme has the potential to support up to 16,000 new jobs across Greater Manchester, but only if it is delivered with clarity, quality and consistency.
Representatives from the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership (GM LEP), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) outlined a vision for maximising the scheme’s effectiveness in the region in a recent webinar.
GM LEP co-chair Mo Isap discussed the scope of ambition in Greater Manchester and explained the purpose and aims of the GM Kickstart Board, a body set up to steer the delivery of the Kickstart scheme.
He said: “Our ambition is to create more than 16,000 placements, which we then turn into jobs. It’s so important that our business partners can understand how we can make that happen.
“We want to make sure every single ounce of opportunity available to us is exploited and explored, and that the outcomes are significant. As a businessperson, what I’m seeking is that the support given to us, small and large businesses alike, ensures the best possible opportunity to convert that placement into a more permanent job.”
Three overarching themes will inform the programme’s delivery in Greater Manchester – clarity, consistency and quality.
Mo added: “Clarity of information, every business understanding how this works, how they can engage and how they can benefit, and every young person can see where that future could be and the pathways to those opportunities. For the gateway organisations to understand how they should be operating.
“This can’t just be a tick-box exercise, and the quality of outcome has to be paramount. If a young person has a bad experience, it could close them off from the future employment possibilities forever.
“Finally, the programme can’t be sporadically brilliant, and then average. Across Greater Manchester the consistency of support, facilitation, experience and business engagement should be equally brilliant, whether you’re in Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside or the city centre, and whether you’re a small business or a large business.”
Geraint Williams, service leader at the DWP, provided further details about Kickstart and explained the role of the gateway organisation.
For every job start that occurs, employers will receive £1,500 to cover overheads of the onboarding process and to fund the wraparound support provided to young people for the duration of the placement. For employers providing multiple Kickstart placements, the jobs don’t have to start at the same time and can be the same jobs recycled throughout the lifecycle of the programme. Employers who are able to offer 30 or more jobs can engage directly with the DWP; those offering fewer than 30 will need to work through a gateway organisation.
Geraint said: “A gateway organisation is an organisation bidding on behalf of other, smaller employers who are unable to provide 30 or more Kickstart jobs. It collaborates with small businesses, harvests the interest and runs checks to ensure the jobs are new and are not like-for-like replacements for redundancies. They then together develop an application for the Kickstart scheme.
“The gateway organisation has the relationship with DWP and acts as a conduit for those smaller employers.”
The DWP anticipates combined authorities, LEP partners, local authorities and other large private sector organisations may come forward to become gateway organisations.
Elizabeth Taylor, chief executive at ERSA, highlighted the need for tailored wraparound support for young people. She added that collaboration between business, public sector and employment support organisations would improve the chances of success for each placement.
She said: “Each young person will need pre-work preparation, an induction, their own action plan with SMART targets, training, employability and vocational skills built in from the beginning.
“Things can and do go wrong, and it’s not always somebody’s fault. A domestic situation might change or an employer might need to make redundancies. Taking the Greater Manchester approach is brilliant because we need to be able to pick up and make things right if something goes wrong.”
To learn more about the Kickstart scheme, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/kickstart-scheme
For more information about the GMCA Work and Skills team, visit https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/what-we-do/work-and-skills/