In August of 2020, the UK Government announced a new scheme aimed at getting young people into employment. This was in response to the global pandemic which had put a stop to the ordinary job searching process for many looking to begin their dream careers. In the seven months it’s been running, the Kickstarter scheme has seen over 120,000 jobs created across a variety of industries.
The Kickstarter placements last for six months and are fully-funded by the government, who will pay the minimum wage for up to 25 hours a week, plus NI and auto enrolments. The government will also pay a £1500 per placement grant to employers to go towards set up costs, equipment and training.
The fintech industry has not stood idly by and watched other industries find new talent. This in large part to The Fintech Power 50. The Fintech Power 50 and its partners (Innovate Finance, London and Partners, Rise created by Barclays, Level 39, and iFinance Academy) announced in October the launch of the Fintech KICKSTART scheme. This looked to champion support across its fintech ecosystem and provide employment opportunities for young people looking for work.
Mark Walker, Co-founder of The Power 50, said: “When the UK Government announced the Kickstart Scheme back in early September, I thought it was a fantastic idea. However, when applying the concept to the fintech sector we found several limitations that made the scheme difficult to access for many companies. In order to bridge this gap, I wanted to form a group of the leading associations, companies, and partners within the fintech world, offering additional support and allowing access to placements that may not have existed without our help. We have brought together the most powerful players in the fintech ecosystem to participate in this scheme, and we want to ensure these placements benefit the young person and the fintech company equally.”
As of March 2021, 112 companies in total have applied to the Power 50’s Kickstart scheme creating 229 placement opportunities. Of these, 151 have been approved from 54 companies, which equates to grants approved of £1,154,968.80.
The Power 50 Kickstart Virtual Networking Event
In aiming to further spread the benefits of fintechs taking on kickstarters, The Power 50 held a virtual networking event in which Lord Mayor William Russell attended as a keynote speaker. He was followed by companies who had taken on employees through the scheme and the first-hand experience of some of kickstarters working in fintech for the first time.
What does taking on a kickstart placement mean for a fintech?
The first panel saw Jenny James, the Chief Operating Officer of Findr, Rajen Madan, the Founder of Leading Point and Wesley Rashid, the CEO and Co-founder of Accountancy Cloud discuss how they had found the experience of taking on a Kickstarter.
Together, the three discussed how the government’s Kickstart programme had allowed their company’s breathing space to continue to grow at pace during a global pandemic, something which would have been harder to do without this opportunity.
Wesley Rashid of Accountancy Cloud said, “When you have your high-value staff doing stuff that they’re not necessarily supposed to be doing, that leads to internal pressure. With the Kickstart scheme coming in, these guys are going to be entry-level people coming into the business, meaning we can release the pressure on the guys. Plus we might get some superstars out of it as well.”
With the Kickstart scheme being available to such a wide variety of skills and talent, the key message at the heart of the panel was that companies want to create a community for emerging fintech talent. Although this was cautioned with the thought that businesses really need to think about the structure they currently have and whether any changes need to be made before they bring in new people. This is especially important when Kickstarters may have no previous knowledge of the sector and time and effort is required to effectively help progress and nurture young individuals in fintech.
Having had dealt with inexperienced newcomers through internships before, Rajan Madan of Leading Point said this when asked about the amount of training and time that would have to be dedicated to the kickstarters, “Two years ago we started with internships and we ran a community event called data kitchen. When taking on new people you need to be ready and make sure there’s some structure in place. If we hadn’t gone through that process a couple of years ago, we would be thinking how do we make this scheme a win-win?”
To view the whole discussion, click here.
A Kickstarter’s point of view
On the final panel, five youngsters all under the age of 25 who until two weeks ago were mainly unemployed and claiming universal credit (the two key requirements of the scheme) spoke about what attracted them to the placement and what their experience has been like so far.
Initial feedback on choosing a placement seemed to be that the key criteria centred around the training and support that was on offer and the ability to utilise new skills after the six-month placement is over. All five of the Kickstarters noted their excitement at joining a growing sector, even if they had little or no knowledge of fintech previously.
Megan Palton, a sales and marketing associate at The Fintech Times said, “I’d be lying if I said I saw fintech and thought I want to work in that because I know so much about this, because that definitely wasn’t the case. For me, it was more the Kickstart scheme itself: looking at the training and support we would get during the six months… it was a no brainer really. When I saw this opportunity and what kind of experience that I would get from it to either progress with the company or take it onboard somewhere else, it was a win-win.”
Overall, the Kickstarters said they had enjoyed working in a start-up environment and quickly pointed out that the work culture was very different from working at a traditional corporate company. They said they were enjoying their experience and were very open to learning about the fintech industry as a whole.
To view the whole discussion, click here.
For those wanting to apply, the next round of Kickstart applications need to be made by the 25th April 2021. If you’d like to get involved you can find out all the information here.