Hundreds get on jobs ladder with 'Kickstart' placements after Covid crisis

Government's Kickstart programme could lead to jobs or apprenticeships like these two working for TfL

Government's Kickstart programme could lead to jobs or apprenticeships like these two working for TfL - Credit: TfL

Hundreds of work placements have been created for school-leavers and young people in the East End who have been hit by the impact of Covid-19. 

An employment scheme to help post-pandemic economic growth has so far funded 573 placements through a Department for Work recovery programme called Kickstart run by Tower Hamlets Council as the local “gateway” organisation, it has emerged this week. 

Raina Malcolm on Berkeley Homes apprenticeship at Goodmans Field construction site in Whitechapel

Raina Malcolm on Berkeley Homes apprenticeship at Goodmans Field construction site in Whitechapel - Credit: Stockshot/Swinson

Those aged 16 to 24 receiving Universal Credit can apply for the new six-month placements. They pay the national minimum wage but employers are encouraged to top up where they can. Many placements lead to full-time jobs or apprenticeships. 

“Young people have been hit hardest by the economic impact,” mayor John Biggs said. “Securing 573 placements is one of the highest numbers by any local authority in the country. This scheme is about getting their careers back on track or on the first rung of the career ladder.” 

Apprentices on the river... Fiona Keenaghan and Callum Davies working for Thames Tideway project

Apprentices turn up everywhere, even on the river... Fiona Keenaghan and Callum Davies working for Thames Tideway project - Credit: M J Chapman

The Kickstart programme offers a chance to gain experience in a working environment. Placements are in IT, finance, graphic design, architecture, property management, marketing, hospitality and even leather craft.  

The council has also put forward a further 153 young people for approval to the Department for Work and Pensions, as well as preparing to take on its own Kickstart placements paying the slightly-higher London Living Wage.  

Council cabinet member Motin Uz-Zaman said: “Covid has left many young people feeling anxious about work. But this scheme is a chance to get a foot in the door and learn on the job. It’s also a win-win for companies as the scheme is paid for by the government and gives employers time to get their business back on track and a chance to decide on making the placement permanent.” 

Anyone interested in applying for a Kickstart placement is being urged to call 020 7364 5000 or email, while potential employers can email 

Just completing 12-month placement at Queen Mary's University

Just completing 12-month placement at Queen Mary's University with their uni mentor - Credit: QMUK

Youngsters with learning difficulties or autism have also completed a one-year university course this week at Queen Mary's Mile End campus to gain work experience. Five interns were taken on to give them experience to improve their prospects by removing barriers to the workforce.