What makes a good Kickstart placement?

London Councils, boroughs and the Greater London Authority have drafted a short guide for promoting high-quality placements through the Kickstart scheme


This is a live document and we will update it with further resources as the Kickstart scheme evolves.

Kickstart placements are open to young people aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long term-unemployment. Employers will receive funding for 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week for six months, plus associated employer National Insurance Contributions and employer minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions. There is also £1500 per job placement available for setup costs, support and training.

Participants in the Kickstart scheme will be referred from Jobcentre Plus. As part of the placement, employers are expected to help participants develop their skills and experience, providing support to look for long-term work, CV and interview preparation and basic skills such as attendance, timekeeping and teamwork.

This note is intended to act as a simple guide for:

  1. Employers, on how they can help participants get the most out of their Kickstart placements
  2. Participants, on what they can expect from a good Kickstart placement

The criteria below are based around the four pillars of the Mayor of London’s Good Work Standard:

  1. Fair pay and conditions
  2. Workplace wellbeing
  3. Skills and progression
  4. Diversity and recruitment


1. Fair pay and conditions

The Government will fund each placement at National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week. Employers have the option of topping this up to London Living Wage. The London Living Wage is the only rate of pay that reflects the cost of living in London. London has 2,000 living wage employers who will be topping up Kickstart salaries to the London rate, which is currently £10.85. We would encourage all employers to do so where possible.

The employer should also ensure the following:

  • The employer should consult with the Kickstart participant to agree shift patterns and times before the placement begins or on the first day of the placement.
  • The participant should then receive a clear statement about the role, pay and working hours on the first day of the placement.
  • The participant should receive a full induction process, including a welcome to the organisation and an introduction to colleagues.
  • Participants should be entitled to predictable working hours.
  • Where possible, participants should be given the option of flexible working hours.
  • Participants should be made aware of sickness absence policies and procedures.
  • The participant should be paid on a monthly basis via the PAYE system.
  • The employer should consider offering the participant interest-free loans to help with living costs, such as season ticket loans.


2. Workplace wellbeing

The participant should have an identified line manager, who can supervise each young person, meet with them regularly throughout the Kickstart job, support learning and development, and provide a reference for job applications. It is important that the person responsible for line management understands these requirements and is provided with adequate support themselves.

Ongoing support and mentoring should be provided to the Kickstart participant over the course of the placement. Every young person has unique circumstances so their needs will vary. Some may be facing financial challenges, be in insecure housing or be facing other personal issues. It is important that the wraparound support provided by the Kickstart employer takes account of these specific needs. The line manager should seek to understand these needs and be prepared to signpost the participant towards services offering things like housing or welfare advice.

The employer must ensure that all health and safety regulations are followed and ideally should have a Health and Wellbeing plan for the workforce. They must also ensure that the workplace is Covid-secure, in particular by putting the following provisions in place:

  • A risk assessment must be carried out to manage the risk of Covid-19 in the workplace.
  • Where possible, workers should stay 2 metres apart. If this is not viable, they should stay 1 metre apart with risk mitigation.
  • The workplace should be kept clean and hand sanitiser should be made available at all times.
  • All Covid-secure measures in the workplace should be explained to the participant at the start of the placement.

The employer must ensure that the participant is provided with all other necessary equipment for the job, for example a uniform if applicable. If the participant is working from home, the employer must ensure the following:

  • The participant should be provided with all the equipment they need, for example a computer, phone and videoconferencing facilities.
  • The participant’s line manager should keep in regular contact with the participant. This should include checking in on their wellbeing.

If there is a trade union in the workplace, participants should be made aware of this and signposted towards the relevant union.


3. Skills and progression

A Kickstart placement should prepare participants for the world of work and equip them with the skills to progress into employment once the placement has concluded. Performance reviews should be conducted on a weekly basis at the beginning of the placement, subsequently changing to a monthly meeting, although informal conversations with the candidate are always useful.

The employer should consider employing a specialist provider of services to young people to deliver the wrap-around support. If the wrap-around support is being delivered by an external provider, an agreement should be in place at the outset as to what elements they will deliver and at what cost.

Employers should embed learning opportunities into placements and provide a structured training programme for participants:

  • On-the-job training should be provided throughout the period of the placement.
  • The employer should consider off-the-job training for the participant, and this should be accredited where possible. 
  • The participant should be provided with training in basic workplace skills, such as attendance, timekeeping and teamwork. The most important thing is that the participant is given the opportunity to develop core transferrable skills that will help them progress in the world of work.
  • The participant should receive documentation which provides evidence of the training they have received, even if they have only received informal training.
  • Skills development could be captured through practical tools such as the Skills Builder Universal Framework.
  • The employer should act as a mentor and provide informal opportunities for shadowing through the placement.
  • If possible, the participant should be linked up with networks of other young people in the organisation – for example, apprenticeships or other Kickstart participants. This is particularly the case for large employers making use of the scheme.

Support should be provided to help the participant look for long-term work. This should begin in the early stages of the placement:

  • The participant should be supported to reflect on the skills and experience developed during their placements, and how that can translate into job applications. 
  • Participants should be encouraged to understand employment opportunities that are opened up by the skills and experience developed during the placement. 
  • This support should also involve careers advice and help with setting career goals; advice on job searching, where to look for jobs and how to use social media platforms to look for jobs; support with CV and interview preparations; and a reference from the employer.
  • The employer should discuss options for the participant with their Jobcentre Plus Work Coach.


4. Diversity and recruitment

Employers should encourage applications from diverse and under-represented groups and ensure that the recruitment process is free from bias. The WIN Inclusive Employers Toolkit sets out how businesses can effectively do this. 

Employers should recognise that Kickstart participants are likely to have limited work experience and may require additional support during their placement.

Employers should put in place a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of discrimination, harassment and bullying in the workplace.

Diversity and Inclusion training should be made available for Kickstart participants.

If the participant has a disability, it is important that the employer ensures that their needs are supported in the workplace. The Government’s Access to Work scheme provides grants to support disabled people in work, and could fund things like specialist equipment.


Further resources

The Mayor of London's Good Work Standard

GLA Employment Rights Hub

Workforce Integration Network - Inclusive Employers Toolkit

Skills Builder Partnership - An Employer's Guide to Kickstart  

Living Wage Foundation

DWP - Kickstart Scheme

LGA - Kickstart: What Good Looks Like

TUC - How to make the new Kickstart scheme work for young people

CBI Factsheet: Kickstart Scheme

FSB - Kickstart Scheme

London Chamber of Commerce - Kickstart Scheme