The article below was written by Damian and published in the Herald group of newspapers on 10th September:
"When I was Employment Minister and visiting Job Centres, I was struck that often the main thing stopping someone getting a job was .... not having had a job. It sounds simplistic but it is fundamental: a lack of real-world work experience is often the biggest barrier to getting a foothold on the career ladder.
This becomes a much bigger issue when the economic times are hard. Unemployment happens at all ages, of course. But youth unemployment can have a particularly lasting effect on your career and earnings later on.
These are some of the reasons why we need to put young people at the heart of our economic recovery after the coronavirus pandemic. The Kickstart programme is central to that.
Launched last week, the £2 billion scheme is designed to help young people at risk of long-term unemployment have an opportunity to gain experience, build skills and boost their career prospects.
Employers that sign up to the scheme will be able to offer youngsters aged 16-24, who are claiming Universal Credit, a six-month work placement funded by the government.
Open to employers of all sizes – including private, public and voluntary organisations – they will need to show that the Kickstart role is an additional job that will provide the experience and support a young person needs to improve their chances of permanent employment.
Funding available for each job will cover the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions where applicable. There will be an additional £1500 funding for start-up and wrap around support for each placement created.
Referrals of candidates for roles will be through Job Centres, with employers able to interview candidates. It is expected that participants will start to take up Kickstart roles from November, and the scheme will remain open until December 2021, with the final cohort of six-month roles to end in Summer 2022.
This is an ambitious plan, focused on our workforce of the future. The UK economy has been built on great enterprise and entrepreneurship, and we need to ensure our 16-24 year olds develop the confidence and skills to succeed in the new opportunities that will undoubtedly come as the wider economy re-sets itself after the shock impact of the pandemic.
This is about kickstarting the careers of thousands of young people, but it is also a great opportunity for businesses to boost their own resources in a cost effective and low risk way. I know some local companies have been eagerly waiting for the scheme start, and I hope many more businesses across East Hampshire step forward – either individually or collectively – to take advantage of it.
Also open from last week, employers could apply for funding through the Apprenticeship Incentive scheme, for any new apprentice that they take on between 1st August 2020 and the 31st January 2021.
Under that scheme, employers will receive £2,000 for apprentices aged 16 to 24 and £1,500 for apprentices aged 25 and over, and funds can be spent on anything to support the organisation’s costs.
East Hampshire has a strong record of taking on and training young people, investing in the future of our area and our country. These are great new opportunities – both for career-starters, at this critical point in their lives, and for our local enterprises."