Call for football clubs to score with work placements

Aston Villa, Wolves, West Bromwich Albion, Birmingham City and other professional or semi-professional football clubs are being invited by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to help young people kick off their careers.

The WMCA is holding an event with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for Premier League, EFL Championship and Conference League football clubs in the region to talk about how they could offer valuable placements for young people through the Government’s Kickstart scheme.

Kickstart funds employers to create six-month job placements for 16- to 24-year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment.

The WMCA and DWP partnership is leading the region in brokering and promoting the £2bn scheme, working together with local councils and Chambers of Commerce.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “Our region’s professional football clubs have a fantastic track record when it comes to giving something back to their local communities, and the Kickstart scheme is another opportunity to do just that.

“We know that young people in these communities have been the hardest hit economically by the pandemic, and Kickstart is a great way to help these unemployed youngsters into work to begin their careers. The scheme also makes good financial sense for businesses, who get to employ talented and eager youngsters with government covering the cost. But as good as Kickstart is on paper, its success is dependent on the number of local employers who step up and take young people on.

“The likes of Villa, Wolves, West Brom and Blues can all offer young people the skills they need to score jobs across a variety of sectors in the West Midlands, just as Walsall FC have been doing. I would encourage other football clubs – both professional and semi-professional – to come along to this event and find out how they could give young people a helping hand to achieve their career goals.”

Helene Dearn, group director West Midlands – DWP, added: “Kickstart boosts the career chances of young people at risk of long-term unemployment by helping them take their first step on the jobs ladder and gain real-life work experience and skills for the future. We’re keen to involve more local football clubs in the scheme.”

Kickstart placements available at football clubs could include roles in ticket sales, marketing, hospitality, sports training and ground maintenance.

Adam Davy, community director for Walsall Football Club, said: “We’re very proud to be part of Kickstart. Through the funding, we’re helping young people in our community to gain valuable life skills, and we’re already seeing their confidence grow.

“I would encourage other football clubs to join the scheme, which is a great way of bringing new talent into their business.”

More than 200,000 Kickstart jobs have been approved through the scheme nationwide. Over 10,000 of these are in the West Midlands – the fourth highest rate nationally.

The roles at Walsall FC have been made available by the English Football League Trust (EFL), which is acting as a gateway organisation for more than 65 clubs and has created hundreds of jobs around the country.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, Walsall FC mascot Swifty and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Thérèse Coffey are pictured during a recent visit to see the Kickstart scheme in action at the club

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