Thirty PR consultancies are taking part in the Government's Kickstart Scheme to provide fully funded six-month work placements for people aged 16 to 24 who receive Universal Credit.
PRWeek understands the agencies involved include BECG, which is providing 13 new roles, W Communications (five), John Doe and Hard Numbers (two each).
As well as covering salary, National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment contributions on behalf of employers, the scheme will provide £1,500 in funding to support each employee’s training and development while employed by the business.
Employers who recruit through the scheme can top up pay for salaries or worked hours themselves.
The Kickstart Scheme is a flagship policy of the Government's Plan for Jobs to support the economy through COVID-19.
Employment minister Mims Davies said: “We want businesses across every sector to get involved with the Kickstart Scheme helping to not only support employers and boost our economy, but provide a diverse range of opportunities – especially in the exciting world of communications."
BECG’s support for the scheme follows work with its client Communities that Work to secure commitments from the Government to create opportunities for young people and the unemployed.
The consultancy said it will appoint candidates across digital, design, PR and marketing, and government relations.
“COVID-19 presents a depressing possibility that we could lose an entire generation of skills from the PR industry, if young talent isn't recruited into consultancies like BECG,” the consultancy's chief executive, Stephen Pomeroy, said. “Kickstart can help the communications sector thrive – by reducing the barriers to entry, and really helping the sector to build back better.”
'Train and pay'
Hard Numbers co-founder and group creative director Paul Stollery told PRWeek the agency is making sure all Kickstart hires are offered proper training and development, and the National Living Wage.
“The Government Kickstart Scheme will create a lot of new roles, but there’s a danger that some companies will end up outsourcing 'grunt work' on the cheap and roles won't offer genuine professional development opportunities,” he said.
“We are planning to utilise the scheme and we will ensure staff are treated like anyone else we take on, fully involved in the work we’re doing, with investment in training and development opportunities.
"This will involve us paying for training schemes accredited by bodies such as CIPR and AMEC, and one-on-one internal mentoring with professionals from around our group of businesses. We'll also be topping any hires up to Living Wage.”
The PRCA will be opening a second round of applications from PR consultancies in January 2021.
PRCA director-general Francis Ingham said he expects many more agencies to take up the programme in the coming months.
“It’s been brilliant to see the enthusiasm the PR industry has shown for the Government’s new Kickstart Scheme,” Ingham said.
“The PRCA has applied for 80 new roles on behalf of PR employers, with many more expected in the coming months. History has taught us that young people are most at risk during times like these, so it’s vital we act now to protect their long-term prospects… I’d encourage all employers in our industry to consider applying through us.”