Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber is helping employers from across the Sheffield City Region to inspire the next generation to take the first step on their career ladders after being appointed as an intermediary to the Government-backed Kickstart programme.

Launched at the beginning of September by the Department of Work and Pensions, Kickstart aims to connect young people with businesses, by providing paid work experience opportunities which are funded by the government.

Designed to help improve the life chances of young people who have been unemployed for more than six months, the scheme is designed to help business owners overcome skills shortages within the workplace with the long term aim of job creation.

Since its appointment, the Chamber has received high levels of demand from business owners working across the Sheffield City Region and within less than a month, it has helped businesses to offer over 120 work placement opportunities.

Developed to help improve the life chances of young people aged 16-24 who have been unable to secure permanent employment, the scheme provides paid work experience for up to six months and aims to help youngsters to become work ready, as well as going on to participate in apprenticeships or future training opportunities.

As part of the Kickstarter scheme, the Chamber acts as a Gateway Organisation between employers and local job centres, who will match suitable candidates with work experience opportunities.  Each work placement is advertised through local job centres, and wages are funded by the Government for up to 25 hours per week. Businesses can also claim up to £1500 towards the costs of equipment and training.

The scheme is open to all businesses based in the Sheffield City Region and businesses do not need to be a member of Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber to take part in the programme.

Joada Allen, President, Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber said: “The impact of Covid-19, Brexit and an uncertain economic climate has meant many businesses have placed recruitment decisions on hold. The Kickstart programme is a win-win for all involved.

“As a Gateway Organisation, we will be able to help South Yorkshire’s SME community to help young people benefit from a valuable chance to play their part in helping to shape the workforce of the future. We’ve seen high levels of interest in the scheme, illustrating how many employers recognise the importance of inspiring and encouraging the next generation.

“The scheme offers a chance for young people to find out more about the many varied career opportunities on their doorstep and will hopefully act as a stepping stone to realising their potential.”

Kickstart is a £2 billion fund, created by the Department of Work and Pensions aimed at young people aged 16-24 who are in receipt of universal credit and deemed to be at risk of long term unemployment.

To find out more about the Kickstart scheme, visit: https://www.brchamber.co.uk/kickstart-scheme/