Kickstart: The benefits of using a Gateway
"The Kickstart scheme in principle is a fantastic idea but in practice has been very hard to negotiate. Initially, we tried to secure Kickstart Apprentices with four separate gateways. With one we never received any reply, another informed us (erroneously) that we were not suitable under the DWP rules and a third is so delayed as to be essentially useless - both to us and potential candidates.
But Merton Chamber of Commerce and Caroline Cook, in particular, have been a joy to work with. They have been extremely helpful throughout the process and provided updates, even when there were problems or delays from the scheme itself - not of their doing.
I'm delighted to say that we now have three apprentices in place and they are an exceptional help to our business. We take this role very seriously and are providing a lot of training additionally but the quality of work they are producing is excellent. They are working directly with one of our directors to build out a new revenue stream and help us adapt to the challenges that Covid has placed on our business. Our ability to make this "pivot" would simply not have been possible without them.
We are now looking at taking on a fourth apprentice and will continue to work with Merton.
I cannot recommend Merton highly enough as a Gateway - I wouldn't consider using anyone else or attempting the stress of applying directly.
John Richardson - Little Olive Consulting.