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Applications are open for small businesses in the Western Isles to kickstart young people’s employment and aid the increasing numbers of young people aged 16-24 struggling to find work and survive on Universal Credit.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) announced yesterday (Monday 22 September) a new partnership with Adecco Working Ventures. Together, they will form a new national gateway and intermediary partner for the UK Government’s new Kickstart Scheme, which covers Scotland, England and Wales.

FSB will also be delivering a regional programme of webinars and other resources to encourage, inspire and help small businesses to get involved and make the most of the new Scheme.

Alongside local authorities, business organisations and the voluntary sector, FSB is also calling for a diversity of intermediary providers at local level. This way, any small business wishing to create one or two roles will have a choice of good-quality providers to deliver the important wrap-around support services that these young people are going to need. Small firms are ready to step up and contribute jobs for our young people, whose livelihoods are now threatened by COVID-19.

The UK unemployment rate has risen to its highest level for two years, with official figures showing those aged 16 to 24 suffering the biggest drop in employment compared with other age groups.

Small employers across the Highlands & Islands have a strong record of introducing ambitious young people into workplaces, such as through apprenticeships where 92 per cent of small business apprenticeships are held by those under the age of 25. The Kickstart Scheme offers a new route into the workplace to gain practical hands-on experience.

David Richardson, the FSB’s Development Manager for the Highlands & Islands, said: “The UK’s small businesses are the biggest private employer in Britain and are an integral part of local communities across the Western Isles and the wider region. They are proven to offer more career and employment opportunities to those furthest from work, such as the long-term unemployed and young people who are not in employment, training or education.

“At this critical time, we have successfully worked with government to develop the new Kickstart Scheme, and help small employers to be part of the solution. I want to thank the Department for Work and Pensions and HM Treasury teams for being open to our suggestions on Kickstart, which will help thousands of young people in local communities currently struggling to find work. 

“FSB will now be a national gateway, working in partnership with Adecco Working Ventures. We have allied with Adecco due to its track record in creating job opportunities for young people. This will be alongside local authorities and others to create lots of choices to access the Scheme. Small businesses have been keen to take part, and today’s announcement means that they can now do so with confidence that the support needed for both the employer, and the young person, will be in place.”

Sean Williams, Director, Adecco Working Ventures, said, “We are delighted to have worked with FSB to create this partnership. We will be helping make the Kickstart programme a success for small businesses and for young people. By making it easy for small businesses to access the scheme we will significantly increase the number of opportunities available for young people.”

Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said, “Small businesses are absolutely vital to our recovery as we build back better and a key part of the Kickstart Scheme. It’s great to have the Federation of Small Businesses and Adecco supporting them to take full advantage of our landmark Kickstart Scheme by becoming a national Kickstart gateway.

“SMEs in communities across the country can submit their applications through FSB with the confidence that they’ll be supported throughout the process, and able to ensure each young person makes a success of their Kickstart role. I encourage all small businesses to see if a Kickstart placement could benefit their workplace.”

The Kickstart scheme was announced by as part of The Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak’s ‘Plan for Jobs’, in July, with the aim of helping 250,000 16-24-year olds on Universal Credit into work placement.

Small employers in Scotland, England and Wales who are keen to offer a Kickstart role to a young person can now register at