Last summer, the UK Government introduced a new employer initiative ‘The Kickstart Scheme’ aimed at supporting unemployed young people. Those aged 16-24 on Universal Credit would be provided with a 6-month paid work placement that would deliver the experience needed to secure their future careers.
Is the scheme actually bringing any real opportunities for young people?
Recently, it’s been confirmed that 120,000 opportunities have been created in total with one major supermarket chain creating 1,000 alone. But according to data from the Department of Work Pensions (DWP) under 2,000 young people have actually started their new roles since its launch.
Reports earlier this year highlight the employment scheme has created just 13 jobs a day for young people whilst 292 became unemployed daily. Despite the Government Kickstart Scheme being positioned as an opportunity for businesses to recruit the latest talent and grow their business, these figures tell a different story.
One criticism of the scheme that has yet to be addressed is how candidates are being selected and referred to work placements by their ‘work coach’. Applicants are getting frequently frustrated with the positions they’re referred for as being on the scheme doesn’t always equal a placement best suited to their qualifications and skillset.
A poll on LinkedIn also indicated that employers felt whilst the scheme promises a lot, the application process has let the programme down. Only 30% have had a positive experience and many felt like the scheme had many areas of improvement. The time taken from filling the forms to hearing back from DWP is taking roughly 5 months on average and the overall consensus is that this is simply too long. Many business owners are giving up taking part in the scheme, citing that they “couldn’t invest that much time and effort”.
Irelands comparable scheme
Ireland’s comparable scheme, JobBridge, began in 2011 as part of the country’s response to the post-financial crash downturn. On its closure, the scheme was described as ‘far from perfect’ by then welfare minister, Leo Vradkhar. Cohorts who had finished their education in 2008 had similar experiences to the Kickstart scheme citing ‘mixed emotions’ about their internships which evidently led to a high drop-out rate.
According to an independent review, 70 per cent of participants said they had gained valuable work experience, but less than half said it had helped them get a permanent job or even improved their general career prospects. Dublin-based independent think tank Tasc said the scheme was seen as “massively exploitative” in some quarters at the time.
Although JobBridge did not have the impact that the government would have hoped, with the recent upturn in the employment sector there is optimism the Kickstart scheme will start to have a more positive influence and can give young people the opportunity to start experiencing work, grow their skills and boost their confidence.
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