From education to employment

Employability leaders at ERSA amplify call for Kickstart extension

Elizabeth Taylor

@ERSA_news calls on @RishiSunak for a year’s extension to safeguard the intended hundreds of thousands of new jobs for young people 

Members of the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) add weight to the call for an extension to the Kickstart job creation programme.

An open letter citing the need for an extension to the Kickstart youth employability scheme has been signed by leading members of sector trade body ERSA. The statement, published below, calls on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend the programme to December 2022.

ERSA comprises hundreds of organisations tasked with delivering services to Kickstart participants. Almost 800 people from more than 470 organisations contribute to ERSA’s Kickstart Forum.

The letter, in full, reads as follows:

Dear Chancellor,

On 8th July 2020 you announced that “a new £2 billion Kickstart Scheme will be launched to create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people across the country.” This came as a welcome investment by all of us in the employment support sector, we know the value and importance of creating new jobs for young people at a time when jobs are hard to come by.

On 2nd September 2020, the Department for Work and Pensions launched the scheme.

On 4th September ERSA launched the Kickstart Forum, a community of good practice of employment support organisations who are now Kickstart Gateways, employers, and provide wrap around support to achieve positive long-term outcomes. 796 people from 472 organisations participate in the ERSA Kickstart Forum with an ongoing collaborative online “chat” sharing good practice and problem solving. The ERSA Forum has worked with the DWP, with the department’s policy and Kickstart implementation leads attending ERSA Forums. This is the Kickstart collaboration that responded to Kickstart immediately and continues to do so. The forum members have achieved results and successes, but there is so much more we could do to contribute to launching young people’s careers.

This is why the ERSA Kickstart Forum supports the call from the Youth Employment Group for an extension to Kickstart. To reinforce our message of support we would like to share our experience of working to make Kickstart a success.

Kickstart is one of the largest employment programmes in recent history and it has been launched during an economic and health crisis. There have been real challenges rolling out the scheme in the expected timeframe and restrictions on businesses that have delayed opportunities getting to young people. It is because of these circumstances, and a firm belief in the potential of the scheme to transform lives and drive business recovery, that we are calling for you to extend Kickstart to December 2022.

Delays in implementing the scheme and ongoing restrictions on the economy due to Covid has resulted in Kickstart roles being approved later than expected, jobs being advertised later, and employees starting work through Kickstart later. The scheme is already four months behind schedule, and with both Covid restrictions and implementation challenges an extension to the scheme will ensure Kickstart is able to deliver the intended new jobs.

The employment support sector knows there is never a quick fix for those at the back of the queue. Research shows how the ‘recovery years’ are not experienced by all. Recessions are longer and deeper for young people. Kickstart needs to run throughout 2022 to get maximum value from the billions invested.

Businesses in the ERSA community of good practice are now filling the first vacancies – in February 2021. An extension to the end of 2022 will enable these Gateways to deliver the jobs they had planned for the lifetime of Kickstart. The first jobs started later than expected and the potential of Kickstart should not be restricted by an end in December 2021.

Kickstart has the potential to increase apprenticeship numbers by stimulating employer demand and opening-up access to previously disenfranchised young people. Several employers are commencing Kickstart placements in March 2021 with the aim of taking these young people into their September apprenticeship intake; extending Kickstart would enable this to happen twice and could help turn the tide on the lack of apprenticeships going to NEET young people.

More time is required to create strategic alignment with Government objectives. Thousands more new jobs are needed in key sectors which so far have not been able to respond to Kickstart at scale. More time for partnerships to develop could create, for instance, 1,000s of new jobs in the green economy, social care, and education. Kickstart can play a key role not only in the economic recovery, but also in other strategic objectives like Building Back Better, Levelling Up and the Green Industrial Revolution. The ERSA Forum has convened a smaller working group to support the development of these ideas and we ask for your support to enable this work to come to fruition.

It is because of the circumstances we have outlined, and a firm belief in the potential of the scheme to transform lives and drive business recovery, that we are calling for you to extend Kickstart to December 2022, in line with the YEG paper recently published here

Members of the ERSA Kickstart Forum, and the wider network of ERSA members have given their backing to this request and their signatures are appended to this letter.

Yours sincerely

Elizabeth Taylor, Chief Executive of ERSA

Please see appended list of signatories to this open letter to the Chancellor:




Gavin Jackson



Tony Carr


4front Partners

Aime Armstrong

Kickstart Director and MD

Armillan Ltd (T/A Ninja HR)

Rachel Percy

Progressions & Destinations Co-ordinator

Aspire-igen Group Ltd

Vanda de Freitas

Head of Work and Health Programmes

Blackpool Council

Greg O’Mallo

Business Manager – Employability and Skills

Bournemouth Churches Housing Association

Tanrik Patel

Head of Compliance and Audit’

Business 2 Business (UK) Ltd

Judith Kerem

Development Director


Keith Mason

Business Services & Development Manager

CEIS Ayrshire

Tracey Walford

Head of Community Engagement

Changing Lives Together

Adele Cook

Managing Director

Cheshire Learning Partnership CIC

John Westby

Head of Fundraising and Business Development

Clarion Housing

Arit Eminue


DiVA Apprenticeships

Sian Clarke

Operations Manager

Elite Supported Employment Agency Ltd

Daljit Ghai



Simeon Perry

Head of Operations

EN:Able Communitites

Sara Bradbury

Director of Operations

Enham Trust

Alison Ryan


Exemplia Group

Stuart Don


Fife Council

Kate Culverhouse

Chief Executive

Groundwork NE

Taseef Younas

Projects and Partnerships Manager

Hyde Housing

Graham Duxbury

Chief Executive

Groundwork UK

Andrew Waite

Chief Executive

Impactful Governance CIC

Mat Ilic

Chief Development Officer

Kickstart Community – Catch22

Matthew Johnson

Lead Project Officer

Kirklees Council

Nabila Gardner

Grants and Programmes Manager

Living Well UK

Heather Armstrong

Director of Business Development

London Learning Consortium

Danielle Cassidy

Regional Manager

MC Personnel

Terry Galloway

Managing Director

Norman Galloway

Amanda Boyce

Business Development Manager

Pembrokeshire County Council (Futureworks)

Darius Norell


People and Their Brilliance

Becci Byers

Head of Work Based Learning

PHX Training Ltd

Faye Thomas

Executive Director


Karen Bowring

Managing Director

Professionals UK Ltd

Mike Perkins

Business Development Director

Qualitrain Ltd

Cat Leatherby

Operations Manager

Routes to Work

Moira Cuthbertson

CJS Manager

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

Emma Woodward

Director of Employability and Skills

Social Enterprise Kent CIC

Erica Watts

Head of Employment and Training

Sovereign Housing Association

Emily Edwards

Business Development Officer

Steps to Work Ltd

Phil Golding

Managing Director

Supplytrain CIC

Patrick Ellen

Commercial Associate

Sustainable Workspaces CIC

Lisa Bristow


The Bristow Partnership Ltd

Dr Nick Owen MBE


The Mighty Creatives

Mark Williams

Director of Performance and Standards

The Real Apprenticeship Company Limited

Tracy Fishwick OBE

Managing Director

Transform Lives Company

Leif Haarmann


Viral Corp Ltd

Jayne Wilson

Kickstart Manager

Worcestershire County Council


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