We’ve committed to supporting the Government’s Kickstart Scheme, taking on an initial 250 young unemployed people over the year and integrating those with potential into our apprentice schemes – expanding our early careers approach.

Kickstart is a brilliant initiative that aims to help companies give work opportunities to young people who have borne the brunt of the economic slowdown during COVID-19.

Kickstart funds six-month placements with firms for 16–24 year olds who are claiming Universal Credit and are at risk of long-term unemployment. The Government provides a grant of £1,500 per recruit to support skills development.

The recruits will be found placements in customer service, operational support, office administration, grounds maintenance and labs support, and our supply chain partners will also provide placements to support us to achieve our aim. All will be recruited on a six-month fixed-term contract and will have a dedicated placement manager and a Kickstart skills coach. They will receive job-related and employability skills training supported by our learning and development team.

Customer services and people director, Louise Beardmore, explained: “Kickstart is a brilliant initiative that aims to help companies give work opportunities to young people who have borne the brunt of the economic slowdown during COVID-19.

“We know the North West has some of the highest levels of deprivation in the UK and this year life has got even tougher. We’re absolutely certain there are some fantastic young people out there who just need a break. For many of the people who apply this will lead to full-time roles, and others will leave us with some great new skills to take to other employers.”

We already run several schemes to support young people into work. We recruit around 30 apprentices every year from across the North West, and our graduate scheme recruits people from targeted communities based on their diversity and inclusion data. We also have a Youth Programme for young people between 18 and 24 years who are not in education, employment or training. Around 90 per cent of youth programme participants have a disability or long-term health condition and are from an area of low social mobility and high deprivation.

We have taken part in the Department for Work and Pensions' ‘mentoring circles’ initiative which provides mentoring, support and coaching to young unemployed people who are Black, Asian or from ethnic minorities, have a disability or long-term health condition.