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Due to the impact of the coronavirus, the number of people applying for unemployment benefits has risen to over 2 million, according to ONS. Unemployment rates are particularly high among younger generations, where over 10% of 18-24 year olds are unemployed. The Kickstart program will address the problem at hand – and it could help your company too.

Rishi Sunak announced the launch of the Kickstart program in early August as part of the government's employment plan.

What is the Kickstart Program?

The Kickstart program helps young people find employment

It is a new program that primarily aims to protect young people from long-term unemployment. The Kickstart program is aimed at 16 to 24 year-olds who receive a universal loan. While graduates can apply, it is generally intended for those who lack experience and training. This population group is likely to be hardest hit by the employment crisis.

As part of the program, the government wants employers to create 6-month internships for people between 16 and 24 years of age. Employers need to provide training and provide valuable skills that will help further career development. In return, the government finances the program. You will cover the costs of paying the minimum wage up to 25 hours per week as well as social security and pension contributions. Encouraging employers to create new job opportunities for young people without taking on the financial burden themselves. The government is currently spending £ 2 billion on the program and it is estimated to create 350,000 jobs.

How does the program work for employers?

The government encourages all companies to apply for the Kickstart program. There are no specific criteria – anyone from any industry, regardless of size, can apply. Hopefully many micro-businesses and independent freelance businesses can benefit too. In his announcement, Rishi Sunak said, "I urge every employer, large or small, national or local, to hire as many Kickstarter as possible." He also promised that the number of placements would not be limited.

Ideally, every company would continue to employ its young Kickstarter after the end of their internship. However, this is not a specific requirement of the system. To apply for the system, employers must demonstrate that the jobs they create are in fact new and are not designed to replace existing jobs as an excuse for cheap labor. For example, they cannot fire existing employees in order to fill the positions with kickstarters. No rules have yet been established, but measurements are expected to be taken to ensure employers do not abuse the system.

As mentioned earlier, the main objective of the program is those with limited experience and skills. This means that any company that acquires Kickstarter must be willing to invest in mentoring and training employees. Companies looking to hire someone who can make an immediate impact may be better off taking advantage of the apprenticeship program. The government is encouraging small businesses to hire apprentices by giving them a bonus of £ 2,000. Find out more here.

How can the Kickstart campaign help my freelance business?

Kickstarter help freelance limited companies

Freelancers running their own business might find hiring a kickstarter extremely beneficial. It is expected that you will have to invest additional time to get them "ready to work". The big advantage, however, is that the government pays the bill during this six month period. Many Kickstarters have numerous transferable skills acquired through their education and part-time employment. This allows for an easy transition to learning the skills needed to do a good job in their new role.

All companies take a lot of time and work, but especially new ones. You also never make a profit from day one, and funds can run short in the early days. It often takes several months for a new company to generate a reliable profit. However, when you apply for the Kickstarter campaign, you have the advantage of having someone help you with your work without you having to pay them for the first few months. This program can work really well to help small independent businesses. Especially when you have the time and skills to offer your Kickstarter workout. Hopefully, when the internship is over, you can keep them busy. This means that, realistically, by the time you start paying, they will be fully trained and that is the same as hiring any other employee.

Now prepare your company setup

Freelance sole proprietorships cannot apply for the system as they do not pay employer contributions. If you're currently a sole proprietor and want to take on a Kickstarter or two, you need to register as a limited company ASAP. This means you will be liable for social security, pension contributions, and additional taxes – and paying yourself a salary (and dividends) instead of putting all of your business profits into your personal account.

You can still run your business the same way you did before – your customers won't notice the difference. It's a paper based change, that's all!

Train Kickstarter

Some of these ideas can help you train and improve your Kickstarter.

Mentoring

Remember to assign a mentor to a Kickstarter. Mentors help new employees to orientate themselves more quickly and to feel more comfortable in the workplace. Also, make sure that employees have someone who can help and advise them when needed.

Training sessions

Regular training throughout the Kickstarter internship can prove beneficial to both you and your company. Training can cover any topic you think is relevant. It can be specific, industry-specific skills or everyday tasks that need to be performed. Either way, training helps keep employees ready to work and confident in what they are doing.

Use free courses

If your Kickstarter doesn't have the skills or knowledge to complete the required tasks, there are some free online courses that you can assign to cover the basics before they actually begin, so you can get started right away.

Reed offers many free courses that you can find here. LinkedIn Learning is a paid subscription. It offers a wealth of courses including business management and marketing, and software development.

How can I apply to participate?

Unfortunately, the exact details of the system are not yet known and there is still no way to apply. However, more information will be released later in August and early September. Check the government website for the latest information on the Kickstart program.

More useful reading

For more helpful tips on becoming a freelancer and running your own business, check out the articles below.

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