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Kickstart scheme plea to small businesses in Caithness and Sutherland

By Alan Hendry

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A call has gone out for small businesses across Caithness and Sutherland to take advantage of the UK government’s Kickstart scheme.

It provides 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.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), as a Kickstart national gateway, has teamed up with Adecco Working Ventures to help small firms access the scheme. FSB is urging employers to consider applying now, to create roles from November for people aged 16-24.

FSB will also be delivering a regional programme of webinars and other resources to encourage, inspire and help small businesses to get involved.

The federation says "small firms are ready to step up and contribute jobs for our young people whose livelihoods are now threatened by Covid-19".

David Richardson, the FSB’s development manager for the Highlands and Islands, said: “The UK’s small businesses are the biggest private employer in Britain and are an integral part of local communities across Caithness and Sutherland. They are proven to offer more career and employment opportunities to those furthest from work, such as the long-term unemployed and young people who are not in employment, training or education.

“At this critical time, we have successfully worked with the government to develop the new Kickstart scheme, and help small employers to be part of the solution. I want to thank the Department for Work and Pensions and HM Treasury teams for being open to our suggestions on Kickstart, which will help thousands of young people currently struggling to find work.

“FSB will now be a national gateway, working in partnership with Adecco Working Ventures. We have allied with Adecco due to its track record in creating job opportunities for young people.

"This will be alongside local authorities and others to create lots of choices to access the scheme. Small businesses have been keen to take part, and they can now do so with confidence that the support needed for both the employer, and the young person, will be in place.”

Sean Williams, director of Adecco Working Ventures, said, “We are delighted to have worked with FSB to create this partnership. We will be helping make the Kickstart programme a success for small businesses and for young people.

"By making it easy for small businesses to access the scheme we will significantly increase the number of opportunities available for young people.”

The UK unemployment rate has risen to its highest level for two years, with official figures showing those aged 16 to 24 suffering the biggest drop in employment compared with other age groups.

David Richardson, FSB development manager for the Highlands and Islands.
David Richardson, FSB development manager for the Highlands and Islands.

FSB says small employers across the Highlands and Islands have a strong record of introducing ambitious young people into workplaces, such as through apprenticeships where 92 per cent of small business apprenticeships are held by those under the age of 25. The Kickstart Scheme offers a new route into the workplace to gain practical hands-on experience.

Kickstart was announced by as part of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Plan for Jobs in July, with the aim of helping 250,000 page aged 16-24 on Universal Credit into work placements.

Small employers in Scotland, England and Wales who are keen to offer a Kickstart role to a young person can register at fsb.org.uk/kickstart

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