Kickstart Scheme vs Apprenticeships – which is best for your business?

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The Kickstart Scheme was introduced in mid-2020 with the intention of creating job placements for 16-24 year olds who are deemed to be at risk of long term unemployment. The scheme funding covers 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage (NMW), at 25 hours a week for a total of 6 months (including employer on-costs). Up-take of the scheme has been very high so far, with a large variety of businesses from all sectors and geographical locations taking part.

Apprenticeships on the other hand are said to have first started (although the format will have understandably been very different), during the Middle Ages and were related to medieval craft guilds. In recent decades apprenticeships have become more widely available in a variety of business sectors, including law, business and finance as opposed to previously being focussed on manual labour roles. In the chancellors most recent budget – apprenticeship grants and employer incentives were expanded.

The main difference between the Kickstart Scheme and an apprenticeship is that Kickstart is focussed on short-term work and general employability training, whilst an apprenticeship is long-term and centred generally around specific skill development.

 Kickstart SchemeApprenticeship
The role itself:– The role must be a new one – not displacing or replacing one that existed previously.Minimum of 25 hours a week– No role specific guidance – only that the role must be relevant to their apprenticeship qualification
The employee:– Must be aged between 16 & 24 years old when they start
– The proposed employee must be in receipt of Universal Credit & deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment.
– It is up to each employer what entry requirements and personal qualities they are looking for in a potential apprentice however the government sets out the below minimum expectations:
– Be 16 years old or older
– Not be in full time education
The employer:– Must be able to provide a high standard of training (although not through an apprenticeship scheme).
– Financial ability to pay placement montly as grant payments are received a month in arrears.
– Must be able to financially and educationally support the apprentice for the duration of their apprenticeship – although an external tutor will also be allocated to the employee.
Funding:– A government grant of up to £1,500 will be given to the company per placement.Government funding covers 100% of placements wages up to the relevant NMW and 25 hours a week – Employers taking on a new apprentice are eligible for a £3,000 grant for an apprentice of any age, plus an additional £1,000 grant for hiring a 16-18 year old or 19-24 year old with an EHC plan up to Sept 21.
– Funding can be managed through an online portal – click here to access.
Skills development:– Responsibility of employer to lead skills training:
– Basic, transferrable skills and employability training such as; interview preparation, CV workshop etc.  
-Working in partnership with a chosen training provider:Includes in-depth technical, role specific trainingTraining leads to a specific qualification eg. Level 3 Business Administration.
– Apprentices are required to complete a number of hours as ‘off the job training’ (day release or 20% of their working hours must be dedicated to this).
How to apply as an employer?– You can apply as an employer through two different channels in order to take on a kickstart placement:
1. Apply direct through gov.uk website – you must have a strong training programme outlined and be able to show proof in how you could support your placement OR 
2. Apply through a government approved gateway company – such as Harwood HR. As we are gov approved – if you are looking for a placement quickly – this may be the faster option. For more information about our support package – click here or email info@harwood-hr.co.uk for more information.
– First, you must identify an apprenticeship course relevant to the role you will be advertising, and then find a training provider who can support your chosen course.
– The employer, or the training provider can then advertise their apprenticeship publicly (in much the same way as you would advertise any job vacancy) to then begin your recruitment process.  

Can the two schemes work together?

The two schemes cannot be used as a combination to fund and support the same employee at the same time. However, it is possible to hire a young person originally employed on the Kickstart Scheme and then progress them onto an apprenticeship – thus creating a longer term employment opportunity.

Harwood HR has experience supporting apprentices throughout their employment with businesses, along with currently being a government approved Kickstart gateway – if we can assist your business further in either of the two schemes, please get in touch at

 info@harwood-hr.co.uk or 0117 439 0119.

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