ALMOST a year ago I was very proud to launch the Kickstart scheme – a Government programme to help young people most at risk from the economic impact of the pandemic.

It’s an important element of the biggest package of support for youth employment in decades and designed to help businesses provide opportunities for those just entering the job market – like 700,000 school and college leavers last year – and young people facing long-term unemployment.

Under the scheme, the Government pays the minimum wage costs – including National Insurance and pension contributions – of providing a six-month placement for a young person aged between 16 and 24.

There’s also funding available to support young people to develop new skills and to help them move into sustained employment after they have completed their Kickstart-funded job. It’s open to all employers – large and small.

The take-up around the country has been fantastic with many young people securing high-quality placements – and that crucial first step on a career ladder.

In recent months I’ve met many of these new Kickstarters who are now working in a wide range of businesses, from long established employers like Sam Turner’s in Northallerton to relatively new businesses like EVS Energy in Bedale, who design electric vehicle charging points.

In North Yorkshire, where small employers predominate, the role of organisations like North Yorkshire County Council have been important in providing a gateway to the scheme, handling the necessary paperwork and giving support to the employers and young people taking part.

Recently, I was delighted to meet one Kickstarter who was exactly the sort of young person I had in mind when we set up the scheme last year.

Ryan Wilson started his Kickstart journey – along with two other young people – to employment at the Chopsticks charity in Northallerton a few months ago and made such a good impression that Chopsticks decided to invest in his future. They put him through his basic fork-lift truck training – an industry-accredited programme lasting five days – and now Ryan has a valuable qualification which will stand him in good stead in the future – whether that is at Chopsticks or elsewhere.

I am grateful to all employers, like Chopsticks, who have so far participated in the scheme and given young people an opportunity to get their working careers up and running.

The Kickstart scheme is open until the end of this year. If you are an employer looking to give a young person a chance and talent-spot the people who may drive your business forward, you can find more information at

Young people interested in becoming a Kickstarter should speak to their work coach at the Jobcentre Plus offices in Northallerton or Richmond.