Councillors have recommended up to £106k be drawn from its own Coronavirus Response Fund to support the implementation of up to twenty Council-based ‘Kickstart’ posts for young people as part of efforts to ensure they are not left behind as a result of the pandemic.
The UK government Kickstart scheme is a £2 billion fund aimed at creating hundreds of thousands of high-quality work placements for young people aged 16 to 24 who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment. It covers 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or National Living Wage depending on the age of the participant) for 25 hours per week for a total of six months, as well as associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions.
Tuesday’s (22 June) Policy and Resources committee recommended £106,600 be set aside to help bridge the gap between the nation minimum wage funded by Kickstart, and the Scottish Living Wage, for potential Council posts.
The Kickstart scheme was widely promoted earlier this year by the Council’s Employability service and ASPIRE Orkney to local businesses, who stepped up for the benefit of local young people with offers of 57 local placements, with Orkney Construction Training Group providing administrative support and the Community Learning and Development and Employability service offering support to the employers and the young people taking up the placements.
If approved by Full Council, today’s recommendations mean that the Council’s Employability team – part of Community Learning and Development – would start to work closely with the Council’s Human Resources Service to identify possible work placements within the Council for eligible young people.
Following the meeting, Leader of the Council and Chair of Policy and Resources Committee, James Stockan, said; “The Council is one of the largest employers in Orkney and so it makes sense that we too explore, alongside our local businesses, the scope that exists within the Council for us to take up this Kickstart funding ourselves and give young people at risk of becoming long term employed the real life work skills and experience they will need to thrive as our economy looks to bounce back from the pandemic.”
Kerry Spence, Service Manager for the Council’s Community Learning and Development and Employability Service took on responsibility for the employability services in early 2020: “We want to make the best use we can of this Kickstart funding for Orkney while it is available. While Kickstart only funds posts for six months, there is the option of backing that up with other schemes such as the Employer Incentive scheme which funds 50% of wages over a 12 month period. So our aim would be to coordinate that where we can and - where Kickstart placements are successful - to stretch those opportunities for young people out to 18 months.”
The committee’s recommendation will be subject to approval at the Full Council meeting on 6 July.