The Corporate Director of Strategy and Resources introduced the item. The Committee were reminded that they had been informed in 2020 that Trafford were applying to become a gateway employer for the Kickstart programme. The Corporate Director of Strategy and Resources went over what the programme was about and how it could aid the young people in Trafford before handing over to the Organisational Development (OD) & Skills Manager and the HR, OD and Skills Officer to update the Committee on the developments since the last update.
The OD and Skills Manager explained that the Kickstart fund was a two billion pound programme to create high quality six month work placements for sixteen to twenty four year olds claiming universal credit. Kickstart opportunities were not to replace any existing placement or apprenticeship opportunities within an organisation and the Council had been carful in the way they supported the opportunities both internally and externally to ensure this was upheld. Trafford’s application to be part of the Kickstart programme was signed off in December 2020, which gave Trafford the ability to create thirty eight placements. The placements were due to start in May and each placement was to be for six months with twenty five hours of work per week. The government would pay the wages of each young person on the programme. In addition to wages, £1500 was awarded per placement to provide wrap around support and a further £360 provided for administrative costs. Once a placement was ready the job centre’s work coach would send through applications and the Council would look at how to utilise the opportunities available to prepare the young people for work.
The HR, OD and Skills Officer gave the Committee an overview of the Kickstart placements that had been agreed both internally and externally for the first cohort of young people. There had also been progress in preparing placements for the second cohort of young people. The Council were utilising the skills of the organisational development team alongside the Council’s e-learning platform to provide the young people with the wrap around support they required to succeed within their placements. Each young person would have a personalised action plan to help them address any areas where they required further development and the Council were using their connections with learning organisations to provide additional training where needed. The Council were also working in partnership with Trafford College to provide young people with an offer of a two week pre-Kickstarter placement which would provide them with training in areas including CV writing, interview preparation, how to work remotely, and how to make a good impression. The strategic growth team had received agreement for a working wardrobe to ensure the young people had what they needed for interviews. Support was also to be provided to the managers and teams providing the placements. It was hoped that some of the Kickstart placements would link into apprenticeships within the Council.
The HR, OD and Skills Officer gave the Committee an update on the Council’s apprenticeships. Since the Apprenticeship Levy was introduced on the 1st April 2017 the Council had 302 apprenticeship starts. There were two types of apprenticeship offered by the Council. The first were upskill apprenticeships, which were available to all staff, and the second were EPIC Apprenticeships, which were for entry level apprentices. There had been forty four entry level apprentices so far and twelve of those had gone on to full employment within the Council. The Coaching Professional apprenticeship had just begun and had seen an excellent level of uptake. A leap into leadership apprenticeship was due to be launched in the coming months and the Committee were informed that three EPIC Apprentice positions were to be offered within exchequer services. The HR, OD and Skills Officer offered to provide a more detailed report on apprenticeships within the Council.
Following the update Councillor Thompson asked whether the Kickstart positions were being offered to care leavers, whether there were any other disadvantaged groups who would be offered positions, and if the Council were tracking the demographics of those who received Kickstart positions. The OD and Skills Manager responded that the Council were not in control of which applications the job centre sent but they would ensure a fair approach was taken with the applications they received. The Council had been raising awareness of the Kickstart programme among care leavers so they were prepared to apply for the opportunity.
Councillor Holden asked how young people were to find out about Kickstart to be able put themselves forward for the programme. The OD and Skills Manager responded that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Council were looking to arrange information sessions to increase awareness of the programme among young people. The Corporate Director of Strategy and Resources added that the Council were doing all they could to increase awareness of the programme through staff and services. The Council were also working with DWP so that they were aware of the opportunities available in Trafford and the desired requirements in the Kickstart placements. The Council were hoping to implement a Trafford first approach and to be able to offer as many opportunities to Trafford residents as possible.
Councillor Acton asked how the Council would monitor placements outside of the Council. The HR, OD and Skills Officer responded that the employers that were part of the scheme already had strong working relationships with the Council. Once the young person was placed with an employer the Council would be in regular contact with both the young person and the employer and the HR, OD and Skills Officer would act as the first point of contact for them. The wrap around offer would be provided to both internal and external placements through which the Council would be able to monitor young people’s progress.
The Chair asked whether there were any possible deterrents for young people in applying for the scheme if they did not complete the whole six month placement. The Corporate Director of Strategy and Resources responded that there would be no penalties for the young person if they did not find employment after the six month and that it would not impact their ability to claim unemployment benefits.
The Chair asked if the placements did not work whether the young person would be able to switch placements. The HR, OD and Skills Officer responded that everything would be done to try and ensure a placement worked but the young person could go back to DWP and apply for another placement if necessary.
1) That the update be noted.
2) That a report on the Council’s apprenticeships be brought to a meeting of the Committee in the 2021/22 municipal year.