So the kick starter programme was launched yesterday by the Chancellor with a ‘£2 billion fund to create hundreds of thousands of high quality 6-month work placements aimed at those aged 16 to 24 who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long term unemployment’
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to discover that the scheme, interestingly launched by the DWP and not in conjunction with the DFE – despite the DFE being responsible for young people, certainly up to the age of 18 was neither joined up, nor lacked any cohesive strategy.
I wasn’t the only one to be shocked that the minimum criteria for an employer to participate was a commitment for ’30 placements’ – yes 30! Which cuts out most of the smaller businesses in the UK that are back at work. I assume they envisage these placements with these large employers sitting alone in the empty city offices whilst those supervising them work from home – especially true if the Civil Service are going to participate in the scheme itself.
Yes, you can participate if you want less than 30 participants but you have to work with an intermediary who will get the amazing amount of £300 to create the partnership and fulfil the extensive range of duties envisaged of them. Nor is it envisaged that organisations with extensive involvement with working with employers such as training providers are eligible to become intermediaries, even if they wanted to.
It does leave you with the feeling that the Government has lost the plot yet again. I am beginning to believe that Rishi’s pot of Gold isn’t needed – because his civil servants devise schemes which mean that the money can never be spent.
So, the same employers who are levy paying employers are likely to be big enough to take a minimum of 30 placements – assuming 30% of them participate and they take on average 20 placements, that’s about 115,000 placements in total spending say £0.75bn.
But do they really believe at a time when many large businesses are reducing staff head count, whilst SME’s continue to growth through entrepreneurial flair that there is going to be a sustainable job at the end of the six month programme? – Don’t get me wrong, I hope every one of those placements gets sustainable work but it feels like just another delaying tactic – a bit like managing the numbers of patients into the NHS during COVID-19 – this time, managing the number of people onto the dole queue.
So, it’s time to reverse your decisions on 30, make the opportunity for SME’s much easier, remove the bureaucracy of the intermediaries (whoever they may be) and get the kick start programme into overdrive, not reverse.
Call me cynical but I am left with the empty feeling that we are more committed to spending £600m during August to make people fat than to have a dynamic scheme that really supports the aspirations, hopes and dreams of our young generation.
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