What is the Kickstart scheme?

The Kickstart Scheme is a Government scheme introduced in Great Britain to fund the direct creation of high quality jobs for young people who are on Universal Credit and deemed to be at the highest risk of long-term unemployment. It gives young people the chance to build their confidence and skills in the workplace and to gain experience that will improve their chances of going on to find long-term, sustainable work. This will sit alongside a guaranteed foundation of support through an expanded Youth Offer delivered through the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP), providing a range of targeted support to help young people find lasting work.

The NPA is working with Reed, the recruitment company, who are also a gateway organisation for Kickstart.

What do I, as employer, get by obtaining a placement?

The government will pay for a placement which covers:

  • 100% of the National Minimum wage for 25 hours/week for six months*
  • Employer National Insurance contributions
  • Employer minimum contribution for pensions schemes
  • *For each ‘Kickstarter’ job, the government will cover the cost of 25 hours’ work a week at the National Minimum Wage, which is:
    £4.62 for under 18s
    £6.56 for 18 to 20-year-olds
    £8.36 for 21 to 24-year-olds
  • Employers will also be able to top up that payment if they wish.

PLUS the employee will receive:

As a minimum, the candidate will be enrolled onto the Medicines counter assistant course. After three months you can also choose to enrol them onto the Delivering medicines safely and effectively and/or Introduction to pharmacy stock control courses if you think it will benefit their role.

Please bear in mind that the workload will need to be manageable for the candidates, and for yourselves as supervisors.

Why should I take part in this scheme?

We are supporting Kickstart to allow community pharmacies to support the Government scheme to provide NEW six-month job placements for young people. This is a scheme fully funded by the government to support young people who are out of work whilst boosting the economy; they are investing £2 billion into this scheme . The government points out that many sectors have been hit by the pandemic and we know that pharmacy teams have been stretched and would benefit from having junior staff to reduce the overall burden.

Not only will you benefit from having a junior role to support your pharmacy’s workload, but you’ll be increasing a young person’s chance of finding long term work. The scheme is designed to give them the experience and confidence they need to start their career and increase their employability. Whether you decide to keep them on or not for longer than six months is up to you.

Update on the scheme – 18 January 2022

The DWP has closed any further applications to the scheme as it officially finishes in March 2022. The NPA and Reed will be working closely to fill the vacancies that have been approved – see below:

Outstanding vacancies: Act now to fill your vacancy and don’t lose your funding

  • If you are unsure as to the status of your vacancy, please contact your local Jobcentre Plus straight away. If the vacancy is closed, the Job Centre work coach may be able to re-open it, if you show that you are committed to recruiting a Kickstarter within the next few weeks.
  • To locate your local Job Centre Plus office, please visit the DWP website here. Work coaches at Jobcentre Plus will only refer young people to vacancies (‘referrals’) up until 1 March 2022. After 28 February all vacancies will also be removed from the Find a Job website.
  • We have produced a poster you can display in your window to attract young people who may be interested in a Kickstarter placement. You can download the poster here.
  • The young person must start the job on or before 31 March 2022, and you must inform Reed and the DWP of the start date by the latest 30 April 2022 so they can process the funding.

If you are receiving referrals please view our Employer hiring process guide in particular, steps 2 and 3, if you would like to check what happens next. The DWP is being very active in closing down referrals that are not acted upon within a few weeks, so we would encourage you to interview suitable candidates as quickly as possible.

Once your Kickstarter is appointed, please remember to advise Reed to ensure that their wages are paid and you receive the grant. When they have settled in, don’t  forget to enrol them on the Medicines counter assistant training course – you can access the form here.

What is the difference between the Kickstart scheme and the Pharmacy retail apprenticeship?

The table below highlights the key differences between both programmes on offer by the NPA; you will need to decide what will work for your pharmacy and whether you are looking for a role with greater longevity. You can of course take advantage of both opportunities as long as this is manageable for you.

You must not use the Kickstart scheme as an opportunity to replace existing staff/planned vacancies, or reduce the current working hours of existing employees.

Please note: A Kickstart job is not an apprenticeship but a participant may move to an apprenticeship whilst taking part in the Kickstart scheme. Grant funding will cease once a participant ceases to be involved in the Kickstart scheme (for example, because the participant has moved from a Kickstart scheme job to an apprenticeship).

Kickstart scheme – Junior pharmacy assistant Pharmacy retail apprenticeship
Wage Wage paid by Gov’t (Department for Work and Pensions) National Minimum Wage Employer pays apprenticeship wage
Eligibility 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit
England, Scotland and Wales
England only
Recruitment By Reed via Jobcentre
New employees only
No payment required
By Qube Talent
New OR existing employees
£250 if aged over 19
Minimum length of employment 6 months 12-15 months
Employment 25 hours/week Full/part-time (e.g. 40 hours/week)
20% off-the-job training
Free courses Reed employability training
NPA eLearning courses: Medicines counter assistant course
(+ Introduction to pharmacy stock control/Delivering medicines safely and effectively)
Qube Level 2 Retail Apprenticeship
NPA eLearning courses: Medicines counter assistant course and Dispensary assistant course
When do I have to apply? You can no longer apply to this scheme Any time – but to make the most of up to £4000 in government incentives for new recruits, apply as soon as possible to ensure enrolment before 31 January 2022 

If you have questions about the Kickstart scheme, please read our FAQs via this link or direct your query via email to: NPA.kickstart@reed.com