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How to find new talent with the Kickstart scheme

Here’s why the new Kickstart scheme is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to find new talent for the PR industry – and here’s how to sign up to it

A Kickstart Scheme has just been announced (2 September 2020) by the government (all information here).

The scheme is a £2 billion fund to create hundreds of thousands of six-month work placements aimed at those aged 16 to 24 who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment.

Funding available for each job will cover 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. Employers CAN give more hours and pay more.

There is also £1,500 per placement available for set-up costs, support and training.

Employers that are able to take on 30 or more new staff members can apply for the grant directly.

However, and this is probably where it’s relevant to the PR industry, especially small to medium-sized agencies:

If your organisation is creating fewer than 30 job placements, you cannot apply directly. You must partner with other organisations in order to create a minimum of 30 job placements before applying.

Other organisations could include:

  • similar employers
  • local authorities
  • trade bodies
  • registered charities

In short, this means – as Steve Strickland of Talker Tailor Trouble Maker has said – there’s a huge chance to create a collective here. Or, in his words, a ‘super mega agency like in Power Rangers’. Shotgun Red Ranger.

I’ve gone about creating a Gloucestershire-based business collective (this lays it all out) for which I’ll be the necessary representative – you can only imagine the scheme is keen to limit the number of applications and 30+ placements is where they’ve set the bar.

We’ve already got around half the offered placements we’ll need to be able to apply in just a couple of days; with us offering five across the Radioactive Group. Local MPs, the local media and business leaders have been supportive in trying to build those numbers as you’d imagine – this scheme could give a huge number of people an opportunity, as well as providing us an obvious business benefit.

As I say in the page I linked to above, I’ve often talked about social mobility in PR, and how getting to people that have no idea what public relations is, early enough, could be one way to improve diversity across the board.

People like me, from a less privileged background and with limited education, rarely find their way into public relations. We usually just fall into it.

We have successfully worked with local apprenticeship providers in Gloucestershire to try to widen our potential pool of talent. Two of our employees came to us this way and have been with us and rising up the ranks for years, but I’m aware that this doesn’t begin to scratch the surface.

I think this scheme could be the answer the industry is looking for to find, reach and give paid experience (and, hopefully depending on the market, long-term employment) to people that would have otherwise had NO idea that they’d be amazing in PR.

We talk a good game across the industry about diversity and reaching potential pools of talent we otherwise wouldn’t. This scheme could be the gift horse, its molars are FINE. I have no doubt we could reach thirty placements, minimum, very quickly.

With a view to moving this forward, PRCA has volunteered to act as representative body for UK PR industry, so if you're interested email:

Tweet me with any questions or thoughts – but bear in mind, I’m no expert and this is FAR more grown up than I usually am.

Written by Rich Leigh, founder of agency Radioactive PR

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