Central England Co-op joins Kickstart Scheme for young jobless

The government-backed programme was set up to help those aged 16-24 who are at risk of long-term unemployment

By Miles Hadfield, the Co-operative News

Young people who have found themselves out of work are being given the chance to kickstart their careers at Central England Co-op with over 40 new positions available.

The retail society has joined the government-backed Kickstart Scheme which aims to create new jobs for 16-24-year-olds on universal credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment.

The scheme funds 25-hour-a-week placements for six months across the co-op’s business functions – including its business support centre in Lichfield, its distribution hub in Leicester, and its funeralcare team.

Other retail co-ops to join the scheme include Lincolnshire and Southern Co-ops.

The government funds the placements up to the minimum wage, but Central England has taken the decision to top up that funding for the positions it is offering its new recruits.

Nicola Thomas, talent and workforce manager at Central England, said: “As a co-operative with a purpose of creating a sustainable society for all, giving young people opportunities to develop their skills and their careers is something we are always keen to do.

“We’ve decided to join the Kickstart Scheme firstly to help young people get back into work, but it is also of benefit to us an employer to help create a diverse talent pipeline into our organisation for the future as although these are initial six-month placements, we hope those taking part will become part of Central England Co-op for the years to come.

“Those who take on the roles will not just be doing a job they will also have wrap-around support as we are partnering with the Prince’s Trust who will provide employability skills and training for the whole of the placement.

“We will also add to that support with our own learning and development offering as well, meaning the young people come away with something really valuable after the six months with the possibility of a permanent role with us or otherwise being equipped with skills to take forward to permanent employment elsewhere.”

The co-op has identified 43 positions across the organisation, with 20 roles in its distribution team in Leicester, 15 in its funeralcare operations including floral, masonry, crematorium and frontline funeral teams across its trading area and eight at its business support centre in Lichfield in functions such as HR and finance.

Interested candidates are urged not to miss out as the deadline to join the scheme is Tuesday, 1 March.

Those aged 16-24 and eligible for the Kickstart Scheme are encouraged to contact their work coaches at their local Job Centre as soon as possible to be referred for these positions, as all Kickstart Scheme applications have to be referred.

To find out more about the available roles and other roles currently available at Central England Co-op visit https://careers.coop

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