Suffolk Chamber of Commerce teamed up with Suffolk County Council, the county’s FE colleges, New Anglia LEP and the borough and district councils to form the Suffolk Gateway Partnership (SGP) to support local organisations wanting to apply to the Government’s landmark Kickstart scheme.
Launched last summer, Kickstart is a £2 billion fund set up by the Government to create hundreds of thousands of high quality six-month work placements. It is aimed at those aged 16 to 24 who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long term unemployment.
Since then, over 725 placements have been approved through the SGP for funding, with many more awaiting approval by the Department for Work & Pensions.
A significant milestone was reached this week, when SMART Garden Rooms, Offices & Studios, signed up Andrew Bullett to join its manufacturing team, one of two Kickstarters at the firm – with six more placements being actively filled.
Based in Thurston just outside Bury St Edmunds, SMART is one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of quality outside buildings. Over the last couple of years, the company has seen a massive spike in orders as more people seek to work flexibly from home, resulting in its headcount rising from 35 to 55 today.
Matt Moss, SMART’s managing director said: “Although we have a national reach, we are a Suffolk company that believes in recruiting locally and providing the right kind of environment for our staff to develop their skills in a supportive and exciting manufacturing environment. For these reasons, we jumped at the chance to get involved in the Kickstart scheme. For us it’s about giving back to the community and bringing young, vibrant young people into the business.”
Andrew Bullett himself is very impressed by his experiences as a Kickstarter at SMART: “I am enjoying being part of a team that is producing a quality product being installed across the country. This programme has shown me that I can enjoy working again and given me a purpose. It has boosted my confidence and I look forward to every day.”
Andrew’s line manager, internal operations manager Darren Norton added: “What Kickstart offers me is an immediate starter who is keen to get back into the workplace. It is a credit to our two placements, one in manufacturing and one with an installation team, that they have demonstrated such a level of enthusiasm that both are now already contributing to the success of this business. They are also acquiring skills that makes it attractive for us to retain them beyond the term of their placement.”
Paul Simon, Suffolk Chamber’s head of policy & communications, said: “Meeting Matt, Andrew, Darren and other members of the SMART team shows that Kickstart can be a real win-win for the young people and for the companies involved.”
Emma Alderton, Suffolk Chamber’s Kickstart coordinator emphasised that: “The scheme is open until 31 December this year, but it is important that businesses interested in applying should do so as soon as possible so as not to miss out on the talents and enthusiasm of great young people like Darren.” Businesses wishing to apply for Kickstart placements via Suffolk Chamber should email Emma Alderton: firstname.lastname@example.org
Image: Left to Right, Paul Simon (Suffolk Chamber), Darren Norton, Andrew Bullett, Matt Moss, Paul Sheppard (SMART). Image credit: Suffolk Chamber.