From education to employment

First 73 Kickstart young people ready to start work through Aspire

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More than 70 young people across the UK will enter employment in sport next month through the #Kickstart skills scheme, thanks to Birmingham-based @AspireSportsUK.

The leading training provider is partnering with sports coaching companies, activity providers and leisure companies in offering 16 to 24-year-olds the chance to take up the six-month Kickstart vocational course as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has backed Aspire’s work, which sees the first cohort begin next month as Aspire prepare for a second phase.

According to Government figures released last month, the number of young people in employment has fallen by 278,000 since March.

Businesses can sign up through Aspire to be part of the landmark £2 billion Kickstart scheme, launched by the Government last September to give unemployed youngsters “a future of opportunity and hope by creating high-quality, government-subsidised jobs”. Under the scheme, announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak as part of his Plan for Jobs, employers can offer youngsters aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit a six-month work placement.

Next month, 73 young people will start six-month placements at 24 organisations across England through Aspire. Of these, 53 will begin sports coaching roles and 20 will undertake social media and digital marketing training role, both of which will be offered again in the cohort along with a course in administration for a coaching provider.

As a Kickstart “gateway partner”, Aspire now wants to help businesses across England join a second cohort starting in April. Because of their established networks and track record in training, Aspire has been given Kickstart gateway status to work within the sports and leisure sector to deliver work placements to young people at risk of long-term unemployment.

Interested businesses only have until February 5 to register an expression of interest with Aspire, To help interested partners understand the opportunity, a webinar is planned on January 28.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, has welcomed Aspire’s impact as a gateway partner for Kickstart. He said: “Training and skills will be crucial to the economy recovery from COVID-19, particularly among young people who need every opportunity to learn skills of the future to help them into work.

“I am pleased to see Aspire, a West Midlands-based company, generating opportunities not just in our region but throughout England by leveraging the partnership network they have established. Any local business in the sport and leisure industries which can give a young person a chance to get into work should reach out to Aspire and look to play their part.”

As a trusted partner for smaller companies ready to take on a young person, Aspire can help the next group follow its first Kickstart cohort. After the six-month placement Aspire offer traineeships and apprenticeships, positioning Kickstart as a potential entry point for development opportunities.

Since its launch in 2005, parent company Aspire Active Education Group Ltd has engaged children and young people in physical activity, by providing innovative delivery and training services and resources that educate and inspire.

Apprenticeships business executive Nikki Clamp said Aspire was aiming to engage with sports coaching and leisure companies to build upon the progress in establishing the first cohort. Nikki said: “For the first cohort Aspire have partner organisations not just in the West Midlands and across the East Midlands, but also as far afield as London, Somerset, Southampton, Manchester and North Yorkshire, so we want to build on this by reaching new areas in the next phase.

“As an independent training provider, Aspire has extensive knowledge and experience in the sports and physical activity sector, built up from being a trusted partner for hundreds of schools across the country. On the back of this, our team has helped 24 organisations give opportunities to 73 young people who need their first taste of work through Kickstart. We want to generate more employment chances for the next cohort and look forward to hearing from anyone who wants to get involved.”

Aspire owner Paul Griffiths said the Kickstart programme would offer lifechanging opportunities to young people as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. “The impact of COVID-19 has left the lives of many 16–24-year-olds devastated by uncertainty,” said Paul. “As both a gateway and employer for the Kickstart Scheme, Aspire are pooling resources to help young people to flourish. With youth employment likely to come under further pressure, we are keen to work with any sports and leisure companies who can give a young person the chance which could change their lives.”

Among the businesses taking part in the first cohort are Coventry-based sports and leisure facilities management and training company CV Life. Business development manager Wendy Jackson said CV Life was excited to be working with Aspire, adding: “We hope that we can use our experienced staff to support them to develop confidence in the role during their six-month placement in the hope that we can then consider options such as apprenticeships as a longer-term employment option.

“Being able to offer our leisure centres and schools even more resources at no extra cost during these times is also a massive bonus whilst we support children and families to be more physically active, and whilst children settle back into their education.”

Also on board is PE teaching and sports coaching company Moving Matters, based in south-east London. Director Rob Wilkinson said: “Kickstart is ideal because our industry has been hit hard by the pandemic restrictions and youth unemployment locally is high. We can offer quality placements to equip local young people to work towards a career in this industry. Our experienced staff will share good practice and support them as they embark on the training delivered by Aspire.”

As an established training provider in the sports and physical activity sector, Aspire has a ready-to-go package of support and training. It works with a partner network of like-minded sports coaching organisations, continually collaborating to support team development and business growth.

If the first two cohorts prove successful, Aspire will be looking ahead to organise future phases in the months ahead if Government funding is available.

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