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Kickstart Scheme Closure

Volume 715: debated on Monday 6 June 2022

8. What steps she plans to take to support young people into work following the closure of the Kickstart scheme. (900280)

19. What steps she plans to take to support young people into work following the closure of the Kickstart scheme. (900292)

21. What steps she plans to take to support young people into work following the closure of the Kickstart scheme. (900294)

Following the success of Kickstart, which has seen over 162,600 young people start their new roles, the DWP youth offer will continue to support our young people. I have observed at first hand how our new youth hubs and our extended Jobcentre Plus network have helped to move young people into those local opportunities more quickly. That includes recent visits to Eastbourne’s Hospitality Rocks and the Wolverhampton College’s electric vehicle and green technologies centre.

In Sevenoaks and Swanley, the Kickstart scheme was welcomed with open arms. It is used by many brilliant local employees, including Go-Coach and the Mount Vineyard in Shoreham. Will my hon. Friend ensure that the Way to Work scheme focuses particularly on helping younger people in this way, and on helping specific sectors that are struggling to recruit, such as social care?

My hon. Friend is right. The scheme has transformed how we recruit everybody, including our young people. Our DWP employment advisers are working closely with employers to meet that local demand, including for HGV drivers and care workers. Way to Work has offered a unique opportunity to ramp up that activity, expand the approach, and maximise quicker employment into new sectors, with Kickstart leading the way.

Last month, I had the great pleasure of hosting an apprenticeship showcase on behalf of the aerospace and defence industry in Parliament. I met a constituent, Tianna, who is currently an apprentice at Collins Aerospace in my constituency. Tianna got the opportunity to showcase her enthusiasm and her skills to Collins through the Kickstart scheme. Can the Minister reassure me that other young people in Wolverhampton will have equal opportunity to showcase their own talents and ambitions in the future?

I can reassure my hon. Friend on that. In Wolverhampton, our jobcentres host an employers’ zone, which allows local businesses with vacancies and key training providers to meet claimants and enable those swaps and job-matching sessions. In the new Wolverhampton youth hub located in The Way, the youth zone directly supports young people furthest away from the labour market to find training and employment and, currently, exciting opportunities in the summer’s Commonwealth games, too.

I thank my hon. Friend for her visit to Eastbourne and the great energy and commitment she has shown to raising local aspiration. The kickstart scheme has been a huge success locally. Now hundreds of young people are in employment and building their careers—notably in Sussex NHS, where there are hundreds of new entrants. We are still working hard in hospitality and care, other sectors where there are opportunities as yet unfilled. What work is there coming down the line to connect young people with some of those opportunities, including in the digital and creative sector, where it is also important for us to build?

My hon. Friend rightly highlights the success of the kickstart scheme. I know she has had personal involvement in supporting young people in her constituency. Building on that success is an important question. The Way to Work initiative is building on those key links with local employers, such as the Sussex NHS, that offer good-quality opportunities for young people. Meanwhile, our work coaches continue to support jobseekers of all ages in accessing those vacancies and opportunities that she mentions in all those in-demand sectors.

The kickstart scheme was supposed to generate 600,000 placements. In reality, it generated around 235,000, and of those 80,000 were unfilled at the time that it closed. Does the Minister really think we should describe that as a success? Would not most people be asking what went wrong?

I will happily write to the hon. Gentleman with the correct numbers on this. Some 162,600 lives have been transformed at the most challenging time, with well over 200,000 vacancies created by employers who would never have looked at this way of recruiting and bringing young people into the labour market before. It is clear that many employers thought they were doing a favour by getting a young person in for six months. The scheme has transformed recruitment, young lives and opportunities, and employers have found that they are the ones who have had that favour done for them.