What does Constructing Again Higher actually imply for SMEs?

Because the nation returns to some extent of normality, so the drive to create jobs and deal with the present excessive ranges of unemployment steps up a gear.

For companies, this cross-roads raises many questions; is now the fitting time to be investing in employees for the longer term? What schemes are on the market to assist companies seeking to tackle new employees and get again on monitor? And the way ought to all this be navigated inside an setting of uncertainty?

The Authorities mantra of ‘Constructing Again Higher’ is nicely worn and for a lot of companies could appear a little bit over bold. In any case, certainly most can be content material with ‘Constructing Again’ – a minimum of within the brief time period.

However as difficult as it could be, there’s a sturdy argument for pondering past the rapid months forward. Firstly, due to the plethora of Governments schemes and incentives in place to assist companies with their recruitment wants. And secondly, as a result of if the pandemic has proven something, it’s that persons are what makes companies successful; and investing in them is essential.


Important funds have been directed in the direction of incentivising apprenticeships. Employers can declare a £3,000 authorities grant for taking over an apprentice, and people companies that do are rewarded with workers dedicated to the trigger and with a creating skillset match for the enterprise. But latest authorities figures present that the variety of folks beginning apprenticeships has dropped by 19 per cent since this time final yr. And much more worryingly, lower than 1 / 4 of begins thus far in 2020-21 have been among the many under-19s.

It’s comprehensible that companies are cautious about recruiting given the uncertainties of the present local weather. However for these seeking to construct a workforce formed round enterprise want, with a concentrate on youth and sustainability, then apprenticeships are a superb possibility. Apprentices practice on the job and might add an enormous quantity to firms seeking to construct again higher.

For instance at Catch22 we’ve lately launched our hospitality apprenticeship supply – Step22 – alongside some large hospitality names together with Compass Group, Diageo and Hej! Espresso. Utilizing the apprenticeship levy, we work with companies of all sizes to supply and practice nice employees within the hospitality sector – a sector which is barely set to develop as we emerge from the pandemic.

SMEs who aren’t giant sufficient to pay the apprenticeship levy can profit from levy-transfer – the place they pair up with giant organisations who’ve a levy underspend. A few of that underspend can then be transferred to the SME to spend on apprentices. That mechanism, coupled with the monetary assist presently out there from authorities to tackle apprentice, makes now pretty much as good a time as any to discover this selection.

Pre-apprenticeship and pre-employability programmes

Taking over somebody who hasn’t had expertise within the sector or position to which your recruiting is inevitably a danger. However the progress in pre-employability programmes more and more means younger persons are in a position to ability up and get job-ready  – equipping them nicely for that first employment alternative. At Catch22 we ship digital expertise coaching programmes with our companions Microsoft and Salesforce, normal employability expertise via Barclays Join with Work and our newly launched Horizons employability programme supported by J P Morgan and Chase is initially aiming to put 400 folks into significant jobs who presently face limitations to work.

All these programmes work with companies of all sizes seeking to recruit new expertise into their office – with the information that their individual they tackle with have been ready for the job and will probably be continued to be supported in the course of the first 6 months of their position.


The federal government’s flagship youth employment scheme – Kickstart – gives 16–24-year-olds presently on Common Credit score and liable to long-term unemployment a six-month paid placement for 25 hours per week, and a wage on the Nationwide Minimal Wage or greater (depending on their age). This has the potential to make an actual distinction to younger folks, however uptake from companies thus far has been comparatively low. The London Chamber of Commerce and Business (LCCI) discovered that solely 16 per cent of corporations surveyed can be seeking to take up the Kickstart scheme.

Partly this low uptake could also be attributable to a lack of expertise of the scheme and the way it works or the truth that the roles must be new. However once more, Kickstart – if carried out nicely – cannot solely give younger folks a step onto the employment ladder however could be massively helpful to companies.

Key to the success of Kickstart from each the worker and the employer aspect is suitability and sustainability. Suitability within the sense of constructing certain that the candidate matches the position; that they’re correctly supported earlier than they apply and whereas they’re in submit, and that there’s match between enterprise want and worker skillset. Sustainability within the sense that placements should not only for short-term tasks that finish after 6 months and go away the candidate again on the job market. Roles that evolve over the 6 months and end in everlasting posts, or equip younger folks with the abilities to progress onto one other significant position, will profit trade and people alike.

There are numerous good Kickstart gateway suppliers, comparable to Kickstart Neighborhood, taking this actual strategy – supporting candidates and employers earlier than and through placements. SMEs can work with these suppliers to extend the probability of their placements being profitable.


The Restart Programme is geared toward people who’ve been out of labor for longer durations – and is kicking off on 28th June. Throughout UK areas, there will probably be a variety of suppliers working with people (referred via Job Centre Plus) to equip them with the abilities and confidence to safe a job. A key a part of Restart will probably be working with native companies throughout all industries to put candidates into appropriate roles – so from July, there’ll alternatives for companies to recruit straight from Restart of their native space.

Figuring out the most effective path for what you are promoting wants isn’t simple, and the vary of choices out there provides one other layer of complexity. However there may be assist on the market. Attracting the most effective expertise and retaining that expertise has at all times been vital for enterprise; and now maybe, it’s extra vital than ever.

Victoria Head

Victoria is the Director of Employability, Abilities and NCS at Catch22

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