National Pharmacy Association board member discusses youth jobs scheme with Chancellor

29 Jan 2021

NPA board member and owner of Hollowood Chemists, Raj Patel, today joined a virtual discussion with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and young people participating in the government’s Kickstart employment scheme.

Raj was joined at the meeting by Kickstart recruit Ellen Tait who has been working in one of his pharmacies for the last three months. She is undertaking dispensing assistant and medicines counter assistant courses provided by the NPA as well helping in Hollowood’s COVID vaccination centres. Ellen described working in a pharmacy as “challenging and inspiring”.

During the event, Rishi Sunak described his own experience working in a pharmacy (his mother’s) at a young age.

Raj Patel highlighted that the scheme had helped his pharmacies cope with staff shortages owing to COVID isolations and increased workload, but pointed out that funding for the sector was inadequate overall.

In November, the NPA began a partnership with leading recruitment company Reed to enable independent pharmacies to sign up for Kickstart. The Department for Work and Pensions pays wages and employment costs for a six-month job placement for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment.

Speaking immediately after today’s event, Raj said:

“I have 32 Kickstarters, who have been working alongside my teams in our very busy pharmacies in Greater Manchester. They have helped my teams tremendously and are also supporting us with our three COVID vaccination centres which opened two weeks ago.

“We’re delighted to be helping young people get a foothold in employment. A career in community pharmacy is demanding, but it also puts you in the privileged position of being able to help people and save lives. That’s been very clear during the COVID pandemic.

“This is a super initiative for employers and young people, but I felt I had to mention the funding pressures on our sector. After all, if pharmacies are going to survive and continue to provide employment into the future, we need the Chancellor’s support.”

The first phase of Kickstart applications via the NPA and Reed during November 2020 attracted over 700 placements for community pharmacies which have been approved by DWP.

The second phase, which ran in December, attracted over 600 applications from NPA members, and are currently awaiting approval from DWP. The NPA has just opened up a third phase.

Today’s event was live streamed by The Treasury and can be watched back here.