Published: Friday, 12th February 2021

News that more than 1,000 job opportunities for young people across Kent have been offered as part of the government’s Kickstart programme has been welcomed by the Kent & Medway Employment Task Force.

With unemployment in the county among young people increasing – and expected to rise further – the Kickstart programme run by Jobcentre Plus as part of the government’s plan for jobs is now seeing the first young people taking up six-month work placements across the county.

In supporting Jobcentre Plus deliver this major new scheme, the Employment Task Force is encouraging closer working between the accredited “Gateways” through which businesses can offer new work placements, the largest of which is operated by Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce.

In addition, it will work across public and private sectors to help prepare young people for work and to match new placement opportunities with the skills and abilities of the young people being supported.

The Task Force has also accelerated work to support learning and employment through adult skills and apprenticeship opportunities within Kent & Medway. Further initiatives include a careers summit which was held virtually on Monday, 8 February, to look at the strengths and gaps across the county’s careers and employability system and how it could be further supported.

Chaired by Kent County Council Leader Roger Gough, the Kent & Medway Employment Task Force brings together business, local government, schools, colleges, universities, the voluntary sector, careers service providers, the Department for Work and Pensions and two of the county’s MPs.

Preparing young people for work

Roger Gough said: “Kickstart is now well under way, but it is essential we continue to pull together to prepare these young people for work and to help them progress into long-term employment. The Task Force is already showing great value in doing this. We will continue to do all we can to keep Kent working.”

Supporting young people for the future

Deputy Chairman of the Task Force and Medway Council’s Cabinet Member for Inward Investment, Strategic Regeneration & Partnerships, Rodney Chambers added: “We are right behind Kickstart and have committed to 50 places within Medway Council. We want to support our young people in getting real-world work experience and the council will do everything it can to ensure their time here helps to set them up for the future.”

Ensuring Kickstart works for Kent and Medway

Sarah Kennett, Service Leader for Kent Jobcentres and Canterbury Universal Credit Service Centre said: “Kickstart is great opportunity for young people to gain a work placement. The local business and public sector response has been strong and I would encourage more employers to get involved. Working together, we are going to ensure the Kickstart scheme works for Kent & Medway.”

  • The Government’s Kickstart programme was launched last summer as part of the Government’s Plan for Jobs. Funding available for each job will cover the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week. This will also include the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions.
  • Employers can offer placements through the Kickstart programme directly or by contacting their local Gateways.
  • The Employment Task Force was proposed by the Kent & Medway Renewal & Resilience Planpublished in August.

The Task Force’s Employment Plan sets out four key areas of action:

* Supporting young people into work, prioritizing the Government’s new Kickstart scheme

* Supporting the existing workforce, shaped to the needs of employers including renewed careers guidance and support

* Responding to redundancy, and providing opportunity, with greater numbers anticipated as the impact of the epidemic is felt more widely including older workers potentially facing unemployment for the first time

* Looking to the future, in providing new opportunities and career pathways for young people or career changers in the county in a post-Covid local economy.

Members of the Kent & Medway Employment Task Force are:

Roger Gough (Chair), Kent County Council; Alan Brookes, Kent Association of Head Teachers; Rodney Chambers, Medway Council; Simon Cook, Mid-Kent College; Professor Karen Cox, University of Kent; Carol Ford, fruit producers AC Goatham and Son; Sir Roger Gale MP; Damian Green MP; Nicolas Heslop, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council; Jo James, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce; Sarah Kennett, Department for Work and Pensions;  Anthony Lilley, Creative District Improvement Company; Geoff Miles, Kent and Medway Economic Partnership; Pauline Smith, CXK; and Paul Winter, Kent and Medway Skills Commission.

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