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Portsmouth-based businesses are being encouraged by Portsmouth City Council to take advantage of a new government scheme that aims to create jobs and boost employment for young people in the area.

The Kickstart scheme, announced in the Chancellor’s summer statement, will offer much-needed financial incentives to businesses that offer employment to 16 to 24 year olds, who are currently receiving Universal Credit. The government’s initiative aims to not only support fully funded jobs across England, Scotland and Wales but will also improve the skills, employability and resilience of young people.

The Solent Apprenticeship Hub is actively engaging with businesses to gauge demand for Kickstart and develop routes for young people to progress from these placements into longer term opportunities such as an apprenticeship, or full-time employment.

The Hub is hosting a Kickstart webinar for businesses to find out more on Wednesday 20 October 2020, sign up on Eventbrite. Interested Portsmouth businesses can also email kickstart@portsmouthcc.gov.uk for further information.

The Kickstart Scheme will provide funding to employers to create new six-month job placements for young people who are currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. For each job placement the funding will cover:

  • 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week
  • the associated employer National Insurance contributions
  • employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions
  • £1,500 per placement to contribute towards setup costs, support and training

Employers can then pay the difference in wages for any additional weekly hours worked, or should they wish to pay more than the minimum wage.

The Solent Apprenticeship Hub, who are spearheading efforts to increase apprenticeship activity from employers and improve the skills base of the workforce across the region, see the potential that the Kickstart scheme offers to both young people and employers of all sizes. Building a world class local talent pool is key to boosting the success of the business community as the economy recovers from COVID-19.

Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Economic Development and Deputy Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Steve Pitt, said: “With youth unemployment on the rise, it’s vital we invest in the young people of Portsmouth. I would encourage large and small businesses across the city to play their part now in developing the skills and experience that will be of great benefit to the economy and city in the future.

“Not only is Portsmouth City Council supporting this scheme, we are also taking part and will be offering a variety of kickstart placements for young people to gain valuable work experience and essential life skills.”

Portsmouth’s Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education, Cllr Suzy Horton said: “We’re already working with a number of businesses around the city to help them make the most of this important scheme.

“This is a chance to make a real difference to a local young person’s life, and give them that crucial first step towards their future. It’s also a great opportunity for businesses to secure extra help at no cost, so there’s nothing to lose.”

Jodi Fair, Solent Apprenticeship Hub Manager, said: “At a time when there is increased volatility in the economy, businesses have a crucial role to play in supporting our future workforce; whether through skills development, encouraging active citizenship or improving pathways to good quality jobs.

“The kickstart scheme will offer exceptional financial rewards to businesses that offer these placements as the government are paying the wages, up to 25 hours a week, of any young person who is employed through this scheme.”