Newcastle-based charity, Reviving The Heart of the West End (RHWE), is urging regional SMEs to consider recruiting under the government’s Kickstart scheme, to aid recovery from lockdown and create opportunities for unemployed young people.

As a Government approved Kickstart Gateway organisation, RHWE is concerned that the North East has the lowest uptake nationally, and that employers and young people are missing out on the many benefits that the scheme brings. According to a report in the Guardian last month, only 490 of the 12,000 placements that have started are in the North East, equating to just 4%.

Alexandra Johnson, Chief Executive, RHWE said: “It’s disappointing that we have such low take up in the region, as we know that many businesses have been hit hard by COVID and that young people losing work or graduating during the pandemic are finding opportunities harder to come by. We can only assume businesses simply aren’t aware of the scheme or how to access it.

“We’ve seen organisations thrive from these fully funded placements, and we know that young people have so much to offer and yet are unable to realise their potential due to the current climate. I think there’s often a perception that schemes like this demand huge investment from a supervisory point of view, but we’ve seen some incredibly talented young people making waves in their Kickstart placements and securing permanent roles. It’s a win-win situation.”

RHWE will work with employers and young people from across the wider North East to find a strong match that will benefit both parties. All employers that recruit via the scheme will receive a Government grant of £1,500, 100% of National Minimum Wage for 25 hours per week for a total of six months, as well as all associated employer NI contributions.

Andy Hancock, Founder and MD, Mexar Ltd has recruited two employees through the scheme. He said: “Because of COVID and Brexit we’ve had many changes in the business and we needed to grow in a new direction. Working with RHWE the Kickstart scheme allowed us to bring two new individuals into the business to help us do just that, freeing up capacity for R&D. We’ve seen our Kickstart placements quickly get to grips with and develop their roles and we’re so delighted with the impact they’ve made on the business that we’re already looking at retaining the ‘Kickstarters’ when their placements come to an end.

“With the Kickstart scheme there’s really no risk at all to the employer so I urge all businesses to explore and embrace it.”

To find out more, visit www.kickstartne.uk or call the team on 0191 226 7979 for a chat about how it all works.