In Response to COVID-19: Atwood Tate on the Kickstart Scheme
By Annabella Costantino
COVID-19 has placed pressure on all areas of our lives and, specifically for publishing hopefuls, employability prospects. In response to an increase of young people finding themselves without work due to the pandemic, the Kickstart Scheme was announced by the government last summer. The scheme’s aim is to encourage employers to create new job placements, which will offer valuable work experience, along with support in professional development and employability skills. Atwood Tate, one of the leading publishing recruiters and a gateway organisation for the scheme, has taken the time to tell us everything you need to know before applying.
How does the Kickstart Scheme Work?
“You have to apply through your Work Coach at Universal Credit, but you can access and filter current opportunities directly from our website. The government provides funding for six months, for a maximum of twenty-five hours a week at minimum or living wages. To qualify, you need to be between sixteen and twenty-four years old and be registered with Universal Credit. This means that you have a designated Work Coach to help in your job search and make you aware of opportunities. You cannot be in full-time education.”
How Has it Been to Organise such a Scheme at Atwood Tate?
“We decided to apply as a gateway organisation in September, as at the time, an employer needed a minimum of thirty Kickstart placements to apply for funding. If they had less than thirty placements, they had to use a gateway organisation who would pool their placements with other companies and apply on their behalf. We could see that a lot of our publishing clients would be ruled out of individually applying, so we set up as soon as possible, to bring the scheme to them. It has been a huge project to organise alongside our regular permanent and fixed-term contract recruitment business. We have been creating content on our website and social media to explain the scheme and how we can help. Negotiating our way through the Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and Department for Work and Pensions processes has also been a steep learning curve, alongside managing employers’ expectations and the speed with which the scheme can be delivered. The Department for Work and Pensions has been quite overwhelmed by the scheme and has had to grow and train their Work Coach team in response to demand. But it is now starting to take shape with placements being approved and starting over the last couple months.”
What are the Scheme’s Priorities and Goals?
“With so many employers on board, the emphasis for us now is to promote the scheme amongst its target audience. The result of so many placements being available means it is difficult for Work Coaches to keep up with alerting their customers to relevant opportunities. We already promote each employer’s role(s) on our website and social media. By doing this, we hope that candidates see these opportunities and ask their Work Coach to refer them to us if we are handling the recruitment, or the employer. To apply, candidates must be referred by a Work Coach; through this they will be given an ID introduction number, a unique identifier for funding.”
What Has it Been like to Negotiate Partnerships?
“We have been able to negotiate with The Bookseller to promote the scheme on their jobs pages, with links to our corresponding website page. Plus, we have support of Suzanne Collier at Book Careers and took part in her podcast to let people know about how the scheme works. Creative Access is also acting as an intermediary for the scheme and all those that are employed under their partnership will receive access to training and masterclasses, catered to the employee.”
What are the Benefits of the Scheme?
“The difference between this and many placements is that the employer is obliged to make sure that those part of the scheme receive valuable work experience and a positive introduction to working life. Support has to be given in employability skills, CV writing, interview assistance, job hunting and providing a reference. If the role does not develop into a permanent position, then those part of the scheme should leave with the confidence and experience to progress their career. As a recruiter in the publishing industry, we also see this as an opportunity to promote diversity. We hope that the scheme will open up opportunities to those who may not otherwise have considered a career in publishing.”
Thank you to Jo Bowerman and Lynne Willoughby for sharing their experiences as a gateway organisation and for supporting such an incredible scheme! Employers are expecting more interest over the next few months, so if you are eligible to apply, please follow Atwood Tate on LinkedIn or Twitter for updates on all new Kickstart opportunities.