Starting out in your career is never easy and young people have had a particularly tough time in the pandemic – but the government’s Plan for Jobs is creating fresh opportunities for employees as businesses begin to thrive again.
Schemes such as Kickstart, Apprenticeships (which are also open to older age groups), Traineeships and T Levels are giving firms incentives to help new recruits develop skills and experience. Businesses should always carefully check their eligibility for each of the schemes before applying.
In the Kickstart Scheme, which aims to create new jobs for 16-to-24-year-olds, businesses receive a £1,500 grant for each person they take on, to help provide employability support. Kickstart funds a new recruit’s salary and national insurance contributions for six months – so it’s a win-win for employers and employees, as business owners are discovering.
Among them is Paola Dyboski-Bryant, founder of Dr Zigs Extraordinary Bubbles, which makes eco-friendly children’s bubble mixes and accesories in Bangor, North Wales. “It’s been challenging to graduate in a pandemic with that anxiety and not knowing if there were jobs,” she says. “Young people have had such a rollercoaster ride.”
Paola has taken on six Kickstarters this year, and they are earning as they learn new skills.
“We have to make sure we deliver and give our Kickstarters the best training they can get,” explains Paola.
“We’re really nurturing them. I’ve always been very keen to support youngsters, so they’ve had really good training and good management, but even so I’ve been surprised by how fantastic they have been. They’re such a lovely bunch.
“Investing in people always has its rewards. The Kickstart Scheme has given us, as a small company, the opportunity to grow and recruits the chance to do something they wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.”
Kickstart recruit Tecwyn Emrys Jones, 21, agrees. “What made me apply for Dr Zigs was the job description. It had a varied amount of tasks on it and I’m a jack-of-all trades type of person so it really suited me,” says Tecwyn (left). “I did my GCSEs and some of my AS levels and was ready for work.
“At the moment I’m packing and bottling on the manufacturing side, and the people here are nice. And it’s pretty decent to be earning money.
“I would say that if you see a Kickstart role then go for it – it’s really good for experience and for getting into the world of work.”
“I’ve grown in confidence”
Twenty-three-year-old Beth Jamieson (above) works as a marketing assistant at Edinburgh-based tourist attraction The Chocolatarium after she was recruited through Kickstart.
“I graduated in photography from Edinburgh University last year, straight into the pandemic. I was looking for jobs to do with my degree or anything, but it was a struggle in the middle of a pandemic.
“My work coach told me about the Kickstart job, for a marketing assistant with a focus on photography – marketing with social media, websites and content creation, which I’d done in my degree so I thought it was worth a shot.
“Working here has helped me financially, but also with my confidence – I call it my first ‘big girl job’ because it’s related to my degree. Learning within the context of the job you’re working in is really helpful. With other jobs you might be thrown in at the deep end – there’s more support with Kickstart.”
Jenny McLay, 41, is the founder of The Chocolatarium. She says taking on a Kickstart recruit has helped her grow her business.
“We initially took on six Kickstart recruits at the end of March and one now has a job with us. The scheme allows you to grow the business in a way you couldn’t before. Before it was just myself, the assistant manager and about six guides. One of the reasons I decided to use Kickstart was because with the pandemic, we were in the process of setting up an online chocolate shop.
“With Kickstart, it’s not so much whether people have the skills – the whole point is that you can develop those skills. As long as they’re able and willing to learn, then it’s a really positive experience.
“The key thing is that if you can find a young person who is a match for you in terms of their interests and what they want to do, you’re getting talent and the government is supporting you in doing so. When you consider the training you’re giving and the benefit that a recruit is bringing, then I think it’s a win-win situation.”
- All businesses should always check eligibility for each scheme. For details on incentives in Northern Ireland, please visit communities-ni.gov.uk/articles/apply-jobstart-scheme-funding