Fintech has given its thumb up to the government’s coronavirus Kickstart job scheme which is hoped will subsidise hundreds of thousands of work placements for under-25s, although the volume of roles to be created may cause a stumbling block for some.
From today, the Kickstart scheme is now active but requires a minimum of 30 new roles to be created before an application can be started. However, smaller companies can partner with other organisations to reach the required amount. A £300 admin grant to support the administration costs of partnering is on also on offer.
The scheme was unveiled by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, as part of the government’s “jobs, jobs, jobs” pledge to help coronavirus-hit Britain back on its feet.
It will subsidise six-month work placements for people on Universal Credit aged between 16 and 24, who are at long-term risk of unemployment.
Government funding will cover 100 percent of the minimum wage for 25 hours a week in the scheme, which is open to all employers across England, Scotland and Wales.
The idea is the work placement will be a springboard to a permanent role once the six-months is up. If required by the company, after six months another job seeker can take the place of the initial worker.
Kickstart will kickstart when furlough is over
Many of the fintechs quizzed by The Fintech Times about the scheme offered a similar response: the scheme sounds interesting but it’s not a priority, given firms are dealing with weighty issues like bringing back furloughed workers, returning staff to the office, and trying to stimulate their businesses following lockdown.
As Simon Cureton, CEO of Funding Options, pithily put it: “Maybe Kickstart will only kickstart when the furlough scheme has been resolved.”
Support from fintech trade body
Crucially, the scheme, which should lend itself to tech-savvy youngsters, has support from Innovate Finance, the fintech trade body.
Clare Black, Director of Corporate Affairs and Communications, Innovate Finance, said: “ We believe the Kickstart scheme will provide incentives for fintech firms to create roles in our growing and innovative sector, and ensure that a pipeline of homegrown talent is developed across the UK.”
What fintechs and other firms are saying about Kickstart scheme
Atom Bank said taking on Kickstart work placements wasn’t currently possible because of uncertainty about Atom’s future working environment.
The candidate would require face-to-face support from a senior member of staff, which as staff are still working from home was not possible, Atom said.
“We’re investigating how it could work for us and those enrolled in the kickstart campaign,” Atom added.
“Whilst we can’t do it right now it may be something we can move towards in the future when we understand more about how we are going to use our working environment.”
Cureton said Funding Options would be interested in taking on placements via the scheme.
“I think anything that can potentially stimulate some success by way of employment for these youngsters that are coming out of school or college or university, for me that has got to be a positive.”
Like others, Cureton can see one possible stumbling block for fintechs being the initial lack of granular detail about the kickstart scheme.
“If you think about a lot of what the government has announced. If you look at CBILS and BBLS and others, I think what we have seen at the outset of announcements is a lack of granularity.
“I think it’s purely symptomatic of the breath of the challenge that the government is dealing with.”
Companies are currently posting kickstart opportunities on The Fintech Times free-to-post jobs board.
One such firm is recruitment consultant Capable Consultants, based in Essex, which says it’s looking to take on 22 management trainee placements through the scheme.
Capable Consultants Managing Director Kevin Robson envisages two teams of 11 Kickstart placements competing against each other.
Those successful will be trained up in roles with a focus on tech, including working on e-media campaigns and software design.
Robson, said: “It’s important to support the UK by adapting to new demands and supporting the government as we all try to pave the way out of this horrific situation.”
According to the placement spec, the roles at Capable Consultants are home-based and candidates will need to have their own laptops, internet and mobile phone connections.
Robson has offered an 18-year-old from Blackpool, who was recently made redundant and appeared on ITV News, where he was seen going door to door at businesses looking for work, a placement on the scheme.
Robson believes the KIckstart scheme could prove easier for businesses than the government’s Apprenticeship scheme.
“It is a lot less cumbersome than the Apprenticeship programme,” Robson said, pointing out the Apprenticeship scheme involves three parties (the placement provider, the apprentice and the Apprenticeship organising body) while the Kickstart scheme is just the recruit and Kickstart provider.
But Robson is fearful that the Kickstart scheme may have shortcomings, with a particular worry if the government announce new rules further down the line which railroad Capable Consultant’s active recruitment process.
Initially, 50 candidates applied for placements Capable Consultants, which was whittled down to 30 as some were not on Universal Credit.
Robson believes the 30 suitable candidates will be whittled down even further as some will apply for multiple roles.
Another business which is hoping to reap the benefits of the Kickstart scheme is specialist games retailer Tritex, which sells Dungeons and Dragons and Stars Wars games.
Tritex is looking to take on several Kickstart placements, including a tech-focused role of web development and IT assistant.
Owner Jason Thornton said: “I am aware of the situation with a lot of youngsters. People that work around here, even my kids, found coming out of university and college there are no jobs out there. They are a kind of a bit lost and they are going on Universal Credit.
“The idea is we would give them training, give them experience and so potentially they have a fulltime role at the end of it.”
He says without the Kickstart scheme, the retailer would not be taking on new staff.
“From our point of view, would we have taken a risk of hiring people without it? Unlikely. I have got five people at the moment, I am probably overstaffed,” he adds.