Shropshire Chamber of Commerce says it is delighted to have published its first work placement opportunities for young people as part of the Government’s Kickstart campaign.
The Chamber is the first ‘gateway’ provider in the county to post live vacancies through the £2 billion scheme to help young people aged 16-24 who are at risk of long-term unemployment.
Hundreds of companies across Shropshire have come forward to offer vacancies in a wide range of sectors from manufacturing to professional services, hospitality, social care, marketing, animal welfare, and more.
All the placements generated from the Chamber gateway are being advertised on the dedicated Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Kickstart website.
Shropshire Chamber chief executive Richard Sheehan said: “We have been working hand-in-hand with the DWP for a number of months to get this scheme off the ground.
“It has taken time to resolve bumps in the road with the UK-wide back office systems, but we are delighted and excited to finally be in the position to make the first vacancies available.”
He added: “Months of hard work and collaboration with the Government have put us in this position – now we can start an exciting journey which has the potential to change the lives of many young people.
“It couldn’t come at a better time, with new figures showing the UK’s youth unemployment rate rising to 14.5% between August and October last year. It is likely to have increased even further since then.”
So far, around 150 Kickstart employment vacancies in Shropshire have already been approved through the Chamber gateway, with a further 210 in the pipeline once Government checks are completed.
Under the Kickstart scheme, the Government funds 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions.
Shropshire businesses taking on a Kickstart candidate can also apply for £1,500 per job placement available to cover their setup costs, support and training.
Mr Sheehan said: “We are delighted with the response from Shropshire businesses to engage with Kickstart and offer up placement opportunities.
“We have already connected with well over 200 businesses, and with the Government having now simplified its systems to relieve the logjam, we can now start to reap the rewards of all the hard work.
“We are extremely proud to support this unique initiative to provide opportunities to kickstart the careers of young people.
“Our services are available free of charge to help businesses navigate the administrative minefield, deal with the paperwork, and take the pressure off them.”
Ruth Ross, Shropshire Chamber’s director of business, added: “We are keen to hear from any other businesses across the county who are able to offer Kickstart opportunities to young people.
Ben Vaughan, Shropshire Employer Manager for the DWP, said: “We are so excited to begin promoting and filling the Kickstart vacancies for our employers who are represented by our colleagues at the Shropshire Chamber of Commerce gateway.
“They are the first local gateway to have their jobs appear on our Universal Credit system in Shropshire and have put a considerable amount of time and resource into promoting the scheme across our county since September 2020.
“They will represent the interests of a wide range of employers across many sectors covering town and rural locations that will see jobs created in many emerging and exciting industries that will have a broad appeal to our younger jobseekers, giving many their first employment opportunity across the county.”