Young people who have gained high-quality, free work placements with Tesco in Birmingham, thanks to a new £2bn initiative, met the Mayor of the West Midlands to talk to him about their experiences.
Andy Street visited Tesco in Spring Hill to see for himself how the Government’s Kickstart scheme is boosting the careers of local young people.
Kickstart funds employers to create six-month job placements for 16- to 24-year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment.
L-R Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street meets Kickstarters Neli Aktar, Renee Squire and Anisa Shaid, with Emma Taylor, Tesco’s UK & ROI People Director, outside the Spring Hill superstore
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is leading the region in brokering and promoting Kickstart, working in partnership with local councils and Chambers of Commerce.
The Mayor, a former managing director of John Lewis who started his career as a trainee on the shop floor, said: “From my time in the retail industry I know just what a rewarding career it can be, even at this incredibly challenging time for the industry.
“But this is not about the retail sector, this is about supporting young people who have been the hardest hit economically by the coronavirus pandemic. Kickstart is a great way of helping young people into work and training them in critical new skills that could act as a springboard for their career across a variety of sectors in the West Midlands.
“However, the scheme in the West Midlands will only be as successful as the number of companies who pledge to take youngsters on. That is why I am so pleased at Tesco’s commitment to the scheme, which could lead to lots of job opportunities for young people in the West Midlands within the company.
“We will continue to work with Tesco to ensure their Kickstarters have access to all the support and training they require to further their career.”
Neli Aktar, Tesco Kickstarter, said: “I was really pleased to get a place on the Tesco Kickstart programme. I was worried that without previous experience it would be difficult to find a job, but when I applied for Kickstart everything was explained to me and everyone here has been really supportive. I’ve learned a lot already and it’s given me a confidence boost.”
Companies can join Kickstart and find out more information by visiting https://www.wmca.org.uk/kickstart-scheme
Employers planning to offer more than 30 placements can apply direct to the Kickstart scheme, while those offering fewer should go through their local council or Chamber of Commerce.
Funding available for each placement will cover the national minimum wage for 25 hours a week, plus employer National Insurance and minimum auto-enrolment contributions. Young people will also be supported to develop new skills so they can move into sustained employment after they have completed their Kickstart-funded job. Employers can spread the start date of the placements up to the end of December 2021.
Emma Taylor, Tesco’s UK & ROI People Director, said: “I was really pleased to welcome the Mayor to our store to meet some of our Kickstarters in person. We were proud to be early adopters of the Kickstart scheme and are delighted with the energy and enthusiasm that these young people have brought to their roles. I’m looking forward to seeing how they continue to develop and grow in confidence in their time at Tesco, and would recommend the scheme wholeheartedly to businesses who are considering getting involved.”
In partnership with Jobcentre Plus, a total of 63 young people from the West Midlands have gained placements at local Tesco stores through Kickstart.
Tesco’s six-month placements will focus on technical training, employability skills, e-learning modules, and providing the tools for further self-learning, including a personal tablet device for all the young people taking part.
At the end of the placements, Tesco will support the participants to apply for permanent jobs, which include the possibility of moving on to a Level 2 retail apprenticeship programme.
Tesco will self-fund the full costs of participating in the Kickstart scheme, and will pay all the young people in line with current store pay levels, with the hourly rate at £9.30.
Cllr Ian Brookfield, leader of City of Wolverhampton Council and WMCA portfolio holder for the economy, chairs a WMCA taskforce focused on improving opportunities for young unemployed people.
He said: “Our young people are our future and we must do everything we can to support them. It’s fantastic that Tesco is helping young people across the West Midlands gain work experience, knowledge and life skills so they can secure a great job, move on to training or pursue further study.
“The experience and network of contacts these potentially life-changing placements will provide is invaluable. I would urge employers across every sector to get involved in Kickstart, so they can help our young people to develop the skills needed for long-term careers – and bring fresh talent into their business.”
Click here to watch a video of the Mayor meeting the Kickstarters and Emma Taylor at Tesco's Spring Hill superstore.