Writing exclusively today (4 Feb) for @FE News on the #PlanforJobs, @RishiSunak explains how it is so important that our young people avoid the longstanding implications of leaving education into an extremely difficult jobs market, and instead be remembered as the Kickstart generation. The Chancellor also includes more clarification and information on Traineeships, Kickstart and Restart employability programmes. Discussing the removal of the 30 vacancy threshold for Kickstart and why Gateways are still beneficial, he also provides confirms that Kickstarters do not need to have been unemployed for a year.
Rishi also explained that Restarters that were previously furloughed can be offered discretionary referrals via their work coach, even if they haven’t been on Universal Credit for the whole 12 months. To make it even simpler for employers of all sizes to benefit from joining the Government’s flagship #Kickstart Scheme, as of yesterday (3 February 2021), employers are able to apply directly to the scheme without a minimum threshold of 30 jobs.
The £2 Billion 16-24 year old employability programme, which has been underway since September, is helping to put young people who have been some of the hardest hit by the economic impact of the pandemic on the first rung of their career ladder. More than 120,000 jobs for 16-24 year olds have already been created. Referrals to the scheme will run until December 2021 and is expected to create hundreds of thousands of new job placements, the start dates for these jobs vary but will all begin this year.
For those employers who want support to get involved with the scheme – they can continue to partner with one of our many Gateway organisations such as a Local Authority or Chamber of Commerce. To ensure all job placements continue to be of a high quality, the Government will continue to apply rigorous checks on training support and finances. Gateways can help provide a local connection and the necessary wrap around support which is a hallmark of Kickstart.
Since applications opened in September, there are now more than 600 approved gateways covering many sectors and all parts of the country. With so many Gateways already approved, DWP closed applications for new Gateways last week - but businesses that wish to sign up with the support of an existing Gateway will still be able to do so. DWP welcomes existing Gateways continuing to apply to add more jobs and employers over the life of the scheme.
So what is the sector response to Rishi’s article and clarification?
Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) chief executive Jane Hickie said:
“The Plan for Jobs incentives for apprenticeships and the investment boost for traineeships were very welcome but the continuing pandemic restrictions have limited their impact because, as the chancellor has acknowledged, apprentices and trainees can’t get into the workplace.
"AELP also immediately flagged up last July that the wage subsidies for the new Kickstart scheme would make the scheme more attractive to employers and young people and our concerns seem justified.
"The Treasury had originally budgeted for 100,000 new apprenticeship starts up until 31 January 2021 using the incentives but official data as at 8 January showed that only 18,670 starts were planned. The incentives have been extended to last until the end of March and we would welcome them being extended again until the end of July.
"However, AELP believes that young apprentices and their employers should also receive wage subsidies or enhanced employer incentives to place apprenticeships on a level playing field with Kickstart. The Budget next month should also build on the commitment made last year that sustainable funding should be available to SMEs so that they can offer apprenticeships as part of the recovery effort.
"In the meantime the Treasury should use its influence to unlock the English and maths test logjam for 62,000 apprentices unable to complete their programmes and progress – something the media would regard as a scandal if it was happening for GCSEs and A levels.”
Stephen Evans, chief executive of Learning and Work Institute, said:
“We’ve seen sharp rises in unemployment, despite the furlough scheme successfully protecting millions of jobs. The Government’s plan for jobs contains lots of the right answers, including recruiting more Work Coaches and increasing employment support.
“But there are some areas where we need more action, including to reverse the fall in apprenticeships and better support adults to retrain. And we need a more joined up approach, for example better linking Kickstart and Restart to apprenticeships and traineeships. That’s why we’ve argued for a Youth Guarantee, ensuring every young person is offered a job, apprenticeship or training place.
“We need to work together to make the 2020s a decade of recovery and renewal, ensuring everyone gets a fair chance in life. The Budget and later spending review give the Chancellor a clear chance to do that.”
Michael Lemin, Head of Policy at NCFE:
“The plan for jobs provides much needed stimulus to job creation and retention, and will no doubt lessen the impact of the pandemic and accelerate our economic recovery.
"We are keen to also see the Chancellor invest in education, particularly to stimulate full time study and impart the skills needed for in-demand job roles.
"As well as reducing the number of people who are economically inactive, this would be a solid investment in our future skills base.”
Tracy Fishwick OBE, Managing Director, Transform Lives
“I know how hard everyone has worked to get to this point, DWP, local JCP staff, employers as well as those becoming Gateways like us in Liverpool. Since being approved only days before Christmas, like so many Gateways, we were delighted to host our first online ‘meet the employer’ event with young people hearing directly from our employers about the jobs on offer in digital and tech, to environmental and education. It now feels real for the first time, it’s only now getting started! Realistically, these young people will only start in their new jobs in March, almost 8 months after Kickstart was announced. So, in delivery terms, this is early days. We need time to bed in relationships between Gateways and local JCP staff, young people as well as new employers coming forward all the time.
“Kickstart is not a quick-fix, if we are to help those young people who need it the most, we need time to engage them and support them in the right way too, and this is what Gateways will be great at.
“I’d call on the Chancellor to acknowledge that the on the ground delivery of Kickstart deserves longer, to make the most of the billions invested he should announce now that Kickstart will run throughout 2021 and 2022 as a minimum. I’d also like to see a commitment from the DWP to work more strategically with us on job creation programmes with community and social benefit, so we can align Kickstart with the UK’s priorities around the environment, education and care to name but three.”
Scott Parkin, Chief Executive, IEP (The Institute of Employability Professionals) said:
"As the UK faces this unprecedented risk of large scale unemployment in a labour market that could take a number of years to recover, employability services that support people enhance existing or attain new skills through learning, enabling them to move into the ‘right' job opportunity are now more critical than ever.
"Our economy already relies on highly skilled and talented practitioners to support people who are looking for work but the challenges for the sector have increased as we are now required to support a larger and even more diverse group of people as a result of the pandemic. To address these challenges we need to ensure our professionals receive the very best learning and support in order to ‘be the best they can be’ delivering quality services that achieve great results for individuals and communities alike.
"The Institute of Employability Practitioners (IEP), the professional institute for the employability sector, is supporting our sector partners to continue professional development at all levels of their organisations, through our career pathway, enabling the sector to attract new talent and to retain their existing workforce to be able to tackle the challenges ahead."
Elizabeth Taylor ERSA CEO said:
"The employment support sector welcomed the announcements in the Plan for Jobs.
"Throughout the pandemic employment support organisations have been responding to the economic impact of Covid with existing provisions adapted, but there was a clear need for more and for funding. Therefore, it is good to start 2021 with new initiatives to get people back to work. The DWP’s new CAEHRS framework of potential bidders at Tiers 1 and 2 is ready, ERSA’s Kickstart community of 472 organisations is placing young people into jobs, the bids are in for Restart. We are looking forward to further announcements and the prospectus for ESF reserves and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. A rich tapestry of national, local and specialist provisions is needed."