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 – 24 August 2021

The DWP has closed any further applications to the scheme as it officially finishes in December 2021. The NPA and Reed will be working closely to fill the vacancies that have been approved – see below:

First to seventh batch of applications:

There are now well over 300 Kickstarters working in community pharmacy. If you were successful in receiving a placement in the above batches but have not yet interviewed or appointed a Kickstarter, it is now planned for local job centres to build a more direct relationship with those pharmacies seeking a Kickstarter. This should help with the flow of applicants and will mean that the vacancies at the job centres are regularly refreshed.

If you were successful in receiving a placement in the more recent batches, you will have received a confirmation email from Reed entitled ‘Getting ready to interview your Kickstart applicant’. You will also be sent an Employer Agreement from Reed which sets out your responsibilities. Once the vacancy has been posted with your local job centre you will receive applications by email from potential candidates for you to consider and interview. Refer to our Employer hiring process guide if you would like to check what happens next.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 30 September 2021

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