Hemel Hempstead businesswoman encourages other employers to sign up to Kickstart scheme

Kickstart Scheme provides funding to employers to create jobs for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit

Friday, 26th November 2021, 1:35 pm
Updated Friday, 26th November 2021, 1:36 pm

A businesswoman from Hemel Hempstead is encouraging others to take advantage of the government's Kickstart Scheme that encourages young people on Universal Credit to get back into work.

Emma Cooper, owner of O’Rourke Personal, wants to share her experience of the Kickstart scheme in a bid to help other employers to sign up.

The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to employers to create jobs for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit. Employers of all sizes can apply for funding until midday on Friday, December 17.

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Emma and Callum

At the age of 18, Emma convinced a construction recruitment agency to take her on as a recruitment consultant and that kickstarted her career.

After having her daughter and son she decided to build her own recruitment agency working from home in 2011, soon after she convinced her husband to work with her and they moved their company from their garage to an office.

Emma said: "When covid first hit back in March 2020 I really didn’t know if I would still have a business, but luckily I was able to retain my staff with the support of furlough and then earlier this year I heard about the kickstart scheme and decided to apply.

"The scheme offered a £1,500 fee to take someone between the ages of 16 and 24, paid their wages at the minimum wage for that age group for 25 hours a week.

"I interviewed candidates from the job centre and was saddened to hear how hard the younger population are finding things especially during the pandemic to find a job.

"I met Callum, who would describe himself as lost at the time of meeting me. He explained he had mental health issues and I could see he lacked confidence.

"I asked him what he wanted to do and slightly emotional he said he didn’t know, but I could see Callum’s skills and I knew he really could offer us so much at O’Rourke Personnel.

"So, I offered Callum a job with us on the kickstart scheme and he was delighted. He started with us in June, and right away I could see Callum was a quick learner.

"He knew how to help with some IT issues, he had good admin and compliance skills and had a great sense of humour.

"Over the last few months I have seen his confidence and mood improve massively.

"Going to work everyday, being part of a team has built his confidence and helped him feel that he now has a purpose.

"Seeing this development encouraged me to take another young person on the kickstart scheme Rachel, who is also doing really well.

"I would really encourage other employers to look into the Kickstart scheme and consider taking on someone.

"The scheme is great, there is about one month left to sign up and I would definitely encourage other companies to get involved.

"There is nothing to lose, the government is paying their wage, you get to train someone and they get to work, it is a win win."

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Emma added: "The best news, was telling an emotional Callum that I wanted to offer him a permanent position now that the kickstart scheme ends.

"I am so pleased about the scheme, it allowed me to employ in such a difficult time with the pandemic, I am so happy we found Callum.

"I would encourage other business to get involved and help the 16-24 olds on universal credit by giving them a opportunity on the kickstart scheme, they have up until 17th December to apply."

Employers of all sizes can apply for funding until midday on 17 December, which covers:

> 100 per cent of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage depending on the age of the participant) for 25 hours per week for a total of 6 months

> associated employer National Insurance contributions

> minimum automatic enrolment pension contributions.

Employers can spread the job start dates up until 31 March 2022. You’ll get funding for 6 months once the young person has started their job.

For more information about the Kickstart Scheme visit: www.gov.uk/government/collections/kickstart-scheme.