Kickstart – my notes on how to get involved

I’ve tweeted before about how important I feel it is that as many Arts Organisations engage with HMUK Kick Start scheme (a scheme providing funding to employers to create 6 month job placements for unemployed 16 – 24 year olds).

The scheme aims to give young people the chance to build their confidence and skills in the workplace, and to gain experience that will improve their chances of going on to find employment.

I may not agree with the politics but what is abundantly clear is that the after effects of the pandemic may prevent 100’s, perhaps 1000’s of young people entering the creative industries over the next few years. Anything we can do to prevent that happening we should surely do.

So its been frustrating up to now that practically every arts organisation in the country will have been excluded from the scheme not only by the terrible times we are having but by the requirement that every application had to be for 30 or more placements. Information on umbrella bodies was unsurprisingly vague.

However information about the umberella bodies is beginning to change

On the 18th Sept HMUK published a list of organisations who were prepared to act on behalf of a group of organizations. You can find that list here. but as a short cut here are the three ‘hosts’ I am aware of which provide a dedicated cultural offer

Host /umbrella organisationContact E Mail
Mighty Creatives (National, Bridge Org for East Mids, YP focused)Nick Own Nick Owen
CC Skills (National, national org working to create a fairer and skilled cultural sector). Deadline 1st Octcontact via website
Kickstart East Anglia, run by Creative Arts East and Suffolk County Council. Deadline 2nd Octcontact Creative Arts East

Yesterday UK Theatre also updated its response to Kickstart

We are currently working on the Kickstart scheme alongside Creative & Cultural Skills who are exploring options to become a Representative Organisation. The purpose of this role is to aid single employers that cannot provide 30 placements (of which we know many theatre business won’t be able to).

The challenge at this time for young people at the start of their careers, especially those from low socio-economic status, is enormous. It would be hugely positive if through Kickstart we could support both your organisation and young people’s routes into work, in spite of all the challenges our sector and workforce is currently facing.

For more information about this initiative, please read more on our website (scroll down to the dropdown on Entry Routes).

If you are interested in taking part in the scheme via CC Skills, please contact them by Thursday 1 October. Conversations are happening quickly around this and we want to make sure CC Skills are responding with UK Theatre and SOLT members in mind.

Following the Govt’s list of potential umbrella bodies I was in touch with Mighty Creatives (who along with CC Skills are listed as ‘Media; culture; graphical, Education, Creativity and culture’ umbrella organisations for the East of England). They have issued some really helpful guidance notes as to both how the scheme will run, and how they will administrate it – like CC Skills they are looking for expressions of interest in a relatively short time scale (their deadline is 30 September). A third scheme (for East Anglian arts orgs) is being co-ordinated by Creative Arts East and Suffolk County Council with their deadline for expressions of interest being the 2nd October – details on that one from

Here are some of the questions I had – along with the answers I currently have!

When does the placement take place?

Placements are six months long, and the scheme ends in December 2021 so presumably a six month period between the recruitment of your employee and scheme end. You can start the placements at a time that suits you, although worth noting ‘what’s the process from here, below’.

How are the kick start employees recruited

Young people (16-24) on Universal Credit will be referred from their job centre, and you are able to interview the young person who fulfills your role requirements

What will the government funding cover?

The relevant national minimum wage for 25 hrs a week (so 26weeks at 25 hrs) plus NI contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment conditions.

A cash grant of £1,500 to the employer to support each kick starter (worth checking with your umbrella body if they are retaining some of that grant for core support for kick starters etc)

(The umbrella organisation will also receive £350 per kickstarter)

What should each job cover / be

  • The kickstarter mustnt replace existing or planned vacancies or cause existing employees to lose or reduce their hours
  • Are for a min of 6 months at 25 hrs and paid at at least national minimum wage through PAYE
  • Do not require participants to undertake extensive training before they begin the job placement
  • Must support young people to help them get work after they finish the kick start scheme – either with the host, or with employability skills that will help them land jobs elsewhere

Applications by host organisations to employ a kick starter should include how the host org can develop the kick starters skills and experience (ie support to look for long term work, career advice, setting goals, basic skills and so on)

Where will the job be based

Is a live question right now! Given the current UK Gov advice can Kickstarters work from home until such time as it is safe to return to places of work/studio/theatres etc? One can only assume they must be – but I’m waiting clarification

Whats the process from here

I’m speculating here a little but it would seem

  • Potential umbrella organisations are applying to DWP to become umbrella organisations – and there’s clearly a deadline looming around the start of next month
  • Once an umbrella organisation is approved, kick starter hosts apply to the umbrella organisation with details of the role and its benefits
  • Once the role is agreed and approved its passed to the Job Centre to be matched to suitable candidates
  • Interviews
  • Placement starts

How long this process might take from start to finish is a mute point, though one of the schemes suggests a December 2020 start date for a kickstart employee might be possible.

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