THE pandemic hit the pause button on our lives – but now that we’re all getting back to something like normality, many young people across the UK are looking at their careers afresh.
At the same time, ambitious business owners are seeking out new ways to get back on their feet, or give their businesses a bit of a boost.
These are some of the reasons why thousands of people have so far taken advantage of workplace schemes such as Kickstart, apprenticeships, T Levels and traineeships.
They are all brilliant ways for employers and employees to work hand in hand and help the country get back to business after lockdown. Taking part in these schemes is also a way of giving young workers hope and skills for the future and helping new generations find their feet in the workplace.
The schemes form an important part of the UK Government’s Plan for Jobs strategy, a nationwide project that aims to give the economy a helping hand through a generous £352billion support package.
Work placements in businesses large and small can cover all areas of working life, whether at a local hairdresser or a big engineering firm, and from construction companies to care homes. Offering financial incentives for participating employers across a range of industries, the schemes are designed to make sure there’s something to suit everyone.
Which scheme is right for me or my company?
For employers in the Kickstart Scheme, the UK Government will fund a new job for a young person aged 16-24 on Universal Credit who is at risk of long term unemployment, and provide a £1,500 grant for employability support. For details on incentives for Northern Ireland, visit communities-ni.gov.uk/articles/apply-jobstart-scheme-funding.
Expand your team by creating a job for someone looking to retrain or upskill, or who has been made redundant. The apprenticeship incentive of £3,000 for employers in England is being extended until September 30, 2021.
In England, this scheme helps support young people into meaningful work by designing a training programme that suits everyone’s needs. UK Government backing for traineeships means there are employer incentives available worth £1,000 per trainee for participating businesses.
Industry placements are an ideal solution when it comes to entry-level skills in lots of different jobs. In England, There is a £1,000 incentive available for employers who host placements between May 27, 2021 and July 31, 2022.
Businesses should check eligibility criteria and deadlines before applying. Go to gov.uk/government/topical-events/plan-for-jobs
IT’S THE BUSINESS
Alisha Merali, 18, from Birmingham, has recently completed her business apprenticeship
“Although I was getting good grades at college, I wasn’t sure about the subject I’d chosen and I wasn’t very happy. Then I realised you don’t have to follow the traditional route through school, then college, then university, to be successful.
“I found Aspiration Training online and took a role as a business administrator for IHI Care Services, which offers at-home care for people with physical or mental disabilities. I hoped it would be fairly broad and give me the chance to find out what I was capable of.
“I’m mainly dealing with payroll, training and recruitment, but I’ve also helped to develop new procedures within the company. It’s helped me gain the same level of professionalism as someone older than me, made me a more responsible person and boosted my confidence.
“I’ve also realised that I definitely want to go into something business-related – perhaps in a government department or the civil service – and I think it will help me gain financial independence at a younger age. I’m hoping to save for a mortgage within the next three years.”
NAB THE TOP TALENT
Jenny McLay, 41, founded The Chocolatarium, an Edinburgh tourist attraction that takes customers through the history of chocolate
“We heard about the Kickstart Scheme [available in England, Scotland and Wales] when the Chancellor announced the Plan for Jobs. Like all business owners, I was hanging on his every word. It sounded like an amazing opportunity. I initially took on six young people, which has allowed me to build the business in a way I couldn’t have done before. We were in the process of setting up an online chocolate shop and, although doing it through Kickstart was a longer process because our trainees were learning on the go, it gave them a great chance to learn different aspects of digital marketing.
“They can also do things I can’t – Jamie, our copywriter, is a much better writer than I am. If you can find a young person whose interests match your business, then the UK Government will support you in bringing new talent on board. It can be a really positive experience.”
TAKE ANOTHER ROUTE
Mustafa Hamed, 21, from Wigan, is an apprentice civil engineer with Manchester-based firm Jones Brothers
“I’m originally from Iraq but I left in 2003, when the war started. After my GCSEs, I knew I wanted to do something linked to engineering so I did a National Extended Diploma before heading to university. I passed my first year but I didn’t enjoy it enough to stay. You get different types of learners – I’m the sort who wants to get stuck in.
“I decided to try the apprenticeship route [available in England only] and passed Jones Brothers doing a job near my home. I told the site manager I was keen to work and the firm agreed to take me on as an apprentice. I started out as a labourer, then moved into being a machine driver. Now I’m doing a second apprenticeship, this time in civil engineering.
“I’m currently working on a cable installation job based in Cottingham near Hull for the world’s biggest offshore wind farm. Since starting here I’ve become more independent and I know I’m learning skills I’ll use in future. I’d like to be a project manager with responsibility for running my own job. Mum and Dad are always telling me how proud they are of me!”
Amelia Cockran, 20, from London, is in her fourth year of an electrical and mechanical engineering apprenticeship with Coca-Cola EuroPacific Partners (CCEP)
“I found out about the CCEP apprenticeship when they came to school and invited us to see how Coke is made, which really caught my attention. I decided an apprenticeship [available in England only] was better for me than the more theoretical university approach – if my hands are dirty, I’m happy!
“You don’t just learn about the job, you learn about yourself and what you’re capable of. The team I work with has taught me so much and helped me build my confidence and skills.
“I’m the first woman at my particular site and I’d like to mentor others like me. I’ve already been back to my old school to talk to pupils about my apprenticeship, and I’d love to encourage other girls into STEM subjects. I honestly didn’t realise how practical the scheme was until I started it – it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”
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