Mims Davies, the employment minister, has urged more charities to take part in the government’s Kickstart scheme, which is designed to help young people into work.
The Kickstart scheme, which was announced in September, provides funding for six-month job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds who are at risk of long-term unemployment.
The funding covers 100 per cent of the national minimum wage for the young person for 25 hours a week for six months, as well as National Insurance and pension contributions, and comes with a £1,500 grant to cover setup and training costs.
Davies, a former charities minister, said a number of voluntary organisations had stepped up to take part in the scheme, but that more charities could take advantage of it.
“I’d be delighted to see more charities involved,” Davies told Third Sector.
“Many have already stepped forward, but this is a call to action to other charities - I fully recognise it’s a challenging time for charities right now but this is a great way of having an extra pair of hands and giving that young person an opportunity to get a foot on the employment ladder and into the world of work at a really tough time.”
Employers looking to participate in the scheme must offer a minimum of 30 job placements, but smaller organisations can participate through larger organisations or through coalitions of organisations.
Davies said the reason for the 30-placement minimum was that it allowed the scheme to be implemented at scale and also allowed the gateway organisations to handle concerns or issues at a more local level.
Davies said that more than 500 organisations had already signed up with a number, including the youth and employment organisations the YMCA, Change Agents UK, Impact People & Change and the Springboard Charity.
“Uptake has been really positive but I think the sector can do even more,” she said.
“It is very busy, finances are difficult and there’s a lot going on maybe it hasn’t hit their radar yet, but actually a spare pair of hands and giving an extra opportunity to a young person could be really advantageous right now.”
She said she hoped the scheme would give the participants a stronger CV as well as greater confidence and a network within the sector, so that they would have the opportunity to progress once the six months was up.
She acknowledged that the past few months had been “really difficult” for the sector.
“I do recognise it’s a really hard time for charities - they’ve got to be really agile at the best of times and they’re proving their worth once again,” she said.