Using the Kickstart Scheme to transform student recruitment

Feb 9, 2021 | Apprentices & school leaver

Conditions for young people are the worst they have been for a generation and support from employers has never been more needed, says Darius Norell, People and Their Brilliance.

Against the backdrop of isolation caused by the pandemic and the subsequent loss of jobs that has disproportionately impacted young people these are challenging times, to say the least.

Compared to this time last year, the ONS reported over 250,000 more jobs have been lost for young people, and research has shown that an extended period of unemployment for young people at the beginning of their careers can have a scarring effect, affecting their earnings as much as 30 years later.

Last year, in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, many organisations made bold statements about the importance of diversity and social inclusion.

With Covid-19 having a greater impact on minority ethnic communities, now is the time to act to make good on those promises. Yet many organisations are faced with their own economic challenges. Graduate recruitment and apprenticeship programmes have been put on hold or reduced, internship schemes cancelled or postponed and recruitment teams already stretched.

We think there is an amazing opportunity for organisations to use the Kickstart Scheme to experiment with changing how they hire to take on non-traditional candidates, with minimal risk and at no cost.

It is a brilliant way for organisations to meet their commitments as good corporate citizens and develop their ability recruit diverse talent. It also builds a pipeline of future talent for when the economy picks up, as well as helping young people at a time of great need.


How does the Kickstart Scheme work?

The Kickstart Scheme offers employers the opportunity to create placements for young, unemployed people for six months for 25 hours a week, paid at minimum wage, fully funded by the government.

The young person has to be under 25 years old, on universal credit with no other income. There is also a £1,500 grant with each placement to cover set up costs and training and no obligation to take the person on at the end of the six months.

There are two ways to apply to the scheme, either directly through the government website or via a Kickstart Gateway like People and Their Brilliance. The rules recently changed so that employers can now apply directly even if they have only a few opportunities, rather than needing a minimum of 30 places.


Why use a Kickstart Gateway at all?

A good Gateway will be pre-checking your application to highlight any obvious reasons you might get rejected, and ensure that you able to provide a quality placement.

Nationally, over half of all applications to the Kickstart Scheme were rejected. Whilst you can reapply, it takes a month to find out the result of each application adding significant delay to the process. Through our experience as a gateway working with over 200 employers on applications for over 1,000 places, we are now getting a first time approval rate of 95%. Here is what we have learnt:

Key considerations:

  1. Are the roles additional or new? How can you demonstrate this?
  2. What training will be in place over the duration of the placement? How will it support the young person’s long-term employability?
  3. How many roles to apply for? Are you able to provide quality placements for the number of people you are taking on?


Using the Kickstart Scheme to transform the way you recruit

Most organisations are still struggling to meet the diversity targets they have set themselves. The Kickstart Scheme is a perfect opportunity to let go of traditional entry requirements and processes, so that you can attract and recruit genuinely diverse talent.

Our aim is to show how you can take on people from more diverse backgrounds, by taking the scary leap of letting go of traditional entry requirements and processes and replacing them with a proven process. It will give you exposure to talent you wouldn’t normally hire and show you how brilliant so-called non-traditional candidates can be.

We support the young people on the Kickstart Scheme by developing their capacity to deliver extraordinary value with integrity for the organisations they join. The best bit is that the government funding for the scheme covers our services, meaning zero cost to you, the employer.
We have used this work in the past with organisations such as O2, EY, Havas, and the London Stock Exchange. Over 5,000 people have come through our radical employability training to date and out unique process was shortlisted for a European Recruiting Innovation Award in 2014.

If your hiring is currently on pause, the scheme is a helpful way of offering a head start for when you do start hiring again. Over time, Kickstart can provide a talent pool to draw from, using people who have already proven their worth to your organisation.

Most would agree that on the job performance is the best indicator of whether someone can actually do the job but typically, when an organisation is hiring they will rely on other measures simply because it doesn’t work to pay someone to do a job to find how well they can do it. With the Kickstart Scheme, not only is this possible, it’s free. By partnering with People and Their Brilliance, your organisation can also benefit from a radical reset.

There is no commitment required to take on the Kickstarter permanently after the six-month period, but you have the opportunity to transfer people onto an apprenticeship, graduate or other direct entry programmes at your organisation.

Hear more from Darius Norell along with Stephanie Bishop (Tomorrow’s Talent), Danny Matthews (Co-op) and Anna Fitzjohn (Bauer Media Group) in ISE’s Kickstart Scheme Explained webinar

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