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Business organisations join forces with Council to help small businesses, social enterprises and charities access £2bn job creation fund

Sheffield Town Hall

Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, Sheffield Digital and the Sheffield Social Enterprise Network have joined up with Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Hallam University and other partners across the city to help smaller businesses, social enterprises and organisations get young people into work.

The government has recently announced the £2bn Kickstart scheme that is designed to create hundreds of thousands of 6-month work placements. The placements are aimed at those aged 16 to 24 who are on Universal Credit and are considered at risk of long-term unemployment. The scheme is open to any young person looking to get a work placement, including graduates.

Large companies who plan to create more than 30 work placements can access the funding directly but smaller companies with fewer positions need to use an intermediary organisation to make a funding application. In a first of its kind in the country, business groups in the city have joined up in partnership with the Council to give small businesses a single gateway to access this funding.

Louisa Harrison Walker, Interim Executive Director at Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said:

“The government has made it difficult for smaller companies to access the Kickstart programme but Sheffield Chamber, working with the Council and business groups across the city, has moved quickly to make it possible for our city’s small businesses to benefit from this funding.

“The government funding is welcome but the details on how to access the funding are complicated. There is some real teamwork going on in Sheffield to sort out the details to make it easy for small businesses to apply for the money they need to create these much-needed work placements. This teamwork is further evidence of the new partnerships that have developed in the city during the pandemic.”

“To keep things simple, small businesses can register their interest in the Kickstart programme by contacting Sheffield Chamber. This is for any small business, regardless of whether they are a member of the Chamber or another organisation. The Council and business groups are moving really quickly to setup the intermediary service so we can immediately begin to help businesses access the funding they need to create these jobs and to help young people get into high quality work placements.”

 Jodie Marshall, Network Coordinator at Sheffield Social Enterprise Network, added:

 “We know that for many social enterprises, organisations and businesses in the city, this period has been incredibly difficult. In such times, we believe that partnership work is critical to the success of the city region and individual businesses and organisations. We are excited to be working in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, Sheffield Digital and Sheffield City Council to make sure that the local social enterprises are included in the planning and delivery of the Kickstart programme.”

Mel Kanarek, a Director at Sheffield Digital, added:

“The vast majority of digital employers in Sheffield are small organisations, but they offer big opportunities. By teaming up with other business organisations and the Council to make it simple for companies to get involved in Kickstart,  we hope to help young people and encourage a new wave of talent into our exciting industry.”

Andrew Jones, the Director of Education and Skills from Sheffield City Council continued:

“Sheffield City Council is delighted to be working with a range of partners including; local business groups, charitable organisations and colleagues from our universities to drive forward the Kickstart Scheme.  This important initiative will provide invaluable opportunities for young people to gain real work experience and hopefully progress rapidly into permanent employment.  It also gives us an opportunity to work in collaboration with partners who can have a major impact upon future employment opportunities for young people in our city.”

Maddy Des Forges, Chief Executive at Voluntary Action Sheffield also said:

“Voluntary Action Sheffield supports this strategic approach to bringing skills and employment funding in to Sheffield. The voluntary sector collectively is a major employer in Sheffield and also supports young people from all communities develop skills and access employment.  We are pleased that the Voluntary Sector can work in partnership with the Council and Chamber on the planning and delivery of this programme.”