Two pages for agenda

Headline: Helping give youngsters a Kickstart

Subhead: Cumbrian firms come forward to be part of Government youth employment scheme

Cumbrian firms have been praised for their “staggering” response to a scheme that will give young people a headstart in their careers following the coronavirus crisis.

The Government’s Kickstart scheme provides funding to employers to create six-month job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds.

The Government will pay the employees’ minimum wage for 25 hours a week, National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic pension enrolment contributions.

Employers also receive a £1,500 grant to cover the set-up costs of taking on a new person.

One Carlisle company taking part is financial planners Stan Sherlock Associates, which is looking to take on someone as part of its business support team.

Chief operating officer Emma Sherlock said the job would include work such as front-of-house cover and administration.

Two business administration apprentices are about to qualify at the firm, meaning it can now focus on training the new person.

In time, she hoped it would become a permanent role.

“We are really keen on development and the local community and as a business we like to develop people and promote internally,” said Emma.

“This is such a great opportunity for us to give something back for someone who could be out of work and has an enthusiasm for financial services, but the burden of the cost isn’t ours.”

Deana Grills, owner of Carlisle-based graphic design and marketing agency Copperlocks, said she had two positions available.

“I am looking for individuals who are looking to get into the creative industry,” she said.

“When I graduated back into 2008 it was pretty bad times then because of the recession and I did some placements myself before being employed.

“I think it is a great opportunity.

“I can potentially take on two new people and teach them new skills and after the six months we might be able to look at moving forward together or they could take those skills elsewhere.”

Peter Johnston, owner of Carlisle coffee company John Watt & Son, said it was looking for a number of people, including two front of house trainees for its cafes and a coffee packer and roaster.

It could also potentially have a role for someone working as part of a food service contract it operates in Newcastle.

Peter said: “It’s a wonderful opportunity to find some young people and give them some experience in the hospitality industry and coffee-roasting, we can develop their skills and provide worthwhile employment.”

Jason Berry, co-director of the Odd Frog Tapas and Live Lounge in Barrow - who also started agency South Lakes Marketing last month - is looking for seven different people.

The roles will be based at South Lakes Marketing and cover everything from graphic design, marketing, data analysis and SEO consultancy.

“There’s quite a bit of range but they are also very specific skills,” said Jason.

“I know what it’s like trying to get a job in marketing around here and it’s really difficult.”

He says he hopes at the end of the six months he will be able to offer them permanent jobs.

Collette Butterworth, managing director of the Plastic Bottle Company, near Ulverston, said it was looking for an office administrator as part of the scheme.

“We would love to take on more, but we are just not big enough,” said Collette.

“We were actually very busy during lockdown with the demand for packaging for hand sanitiser.

“We felt that we wanted to pay it forward and we are very aware that many young people haven’t been as lucky as our employees.”

Jack Gartland, office manager at Shane Taylor Welding, in Maryport, said it was looking for two people to fill office junior and workshop junior roles.

“Because we are a smallish business everybody gets involved in a lot of different aspects of the work,” said Jack.

“In the office they will be learning about health and safety and accounts and the quality side of things and in the workshop they will be getting good experience with the welders.

“I know a lot of youngsters who just aren’t getting a chance and the chance to get six months of work experience will go a long way.”

Annette Martin, owner of the Kings Arms, in Bowness-on-Solway, said it was looking for up to four members of staff, including a cook, kitchen hand, cleaners and bar and waiting staff.

Annette said although business was down at the venue due to coronavirus, the scheme offered the chance to train staff at no cost and be prepared for when trade returned to normal levels.

"We are not having to worry about constantly having to make enough money to pay their wages, for a small business it's a very positive move," she said.

She said the pub had attracted new fans during the coronavirus crisis as people had explored the UK for holidays rather than going abroad.

"We are a bit of an undiscovered gem, but people have begun discovering us," she said.

As part of the scheme applications for funding have to be put together in groups of at least 30.

Cumbria Chamber of Commerce is working with the county’s employers to group together their various offers and administer the process of applying for funding to the Government.

“We have been absolutely staggered by the number of businesses that are coming forward wanting to take on a young person, which is absolutely tremendous when some of them are struggling, it’s a real credit to them,” said Suzanne Caldwell, deputy chief executive of the chamber.

As part of the scheme employers have to provide employment training to their new workers.

The chamber is working with Cumbrian employment and training agency Inspira, which has developed a course they can access to do the training.

This will cover areas such as CV development, interview techniques and other essential skills.