Jobs plea to business leaders

A West Midlands company director has appealed for small businesses across the country to join forces to offer young unemployed people a foot on the career ladder through the government’s new £2 billion Kickstart jobs scheme.

Kickstart aims to create hundreds of thousands of fully subsidised jobs for young people across the country, and local businesses of all sizes are being urged to sign up.

Businesses keen to offer six-month placements on the scheme are now able to bid for funding, which will see the government pay 100% of the age-relevant national minimum wage, national insurance, and pension contributions for 25 hours a week.

Alex Sutherland, managing director of Performance Window Fabrications (PWF), has called for SMEs to form syndicates to meet the minimum requirement of 30 job opportunities.

“We are ready and willing to offer three or four young people jobs under this scheme, but that’s not possible at the moment as there has to be a minimum of 30 placements,” he said. “However, the rules state that small businesses can make a joint application to reach that target.

“I’m calling on businesses across Birmingham and the West Midlands to join forces with us to form syndicates so that we can get potentially hundreds of people into employment at a time when they really need our support. The experience they gain, alongside the training provided, will help them to find full-time employment and build careers.

“The huge numbers of job losses caused by the pandemic have hit young people extremely hard and many may feel they have no hope. I think the business community should step forward at this time of crisis and offer them the chance of a better future.”

The government has agreed to fund new six-month work placements for 16-24-year-olds who might otherwise have difficulties finding jobs. The focus is on giving these temporary employees experience and skills. All businesses are eligible, but there are certain restrictions that any small business thinking about applying for the scheme needs to be aware of.

For example, employers are given the funding for 16-24-year-olds who are currently claiming universal credit and at risk of long-term unemployment.