Author Archives: Kamil Nicholson

My Kickstart Experience

For nearly the last two years, the UK has been sent reeling by the Coronavirus pandemic, and
even after months of lockdown, the country still continues to feel the long lasting effects of the
pandemic. Once the furlough began to end and companies began to re-employ, many young
people were, and still are, in search of a suitable job. After having so much free time to
contemplate, some are using the opportunity of the now shifting market to reestablish
themselves in a career direction they want.

Kickstart is a government scheme that has been implemented as a way to alleviate some of
these issues and funnel the many unemployed young adults into the job market. Since
September, I’ve been employed here at Atwood Tate, a recruitment agency specialising in the
publishing industry, through Kickstart as a Sales and Marketing Administrator, and I’d like to talk
about my experience so far.

Prior to the beginning of the pandemic, I was working as a bartender and server at a restaurant
to help support myself during my degree at university – all of that has changed since. Once
lockdown began in March, I had continued my studies whilst receiving furlough pay from my
then employer. At first, I found this to be quite a convenient set-up, I was essentially getting paid
fully to study, and I had more free time to really explore many hobbies and art. However, I had
felt that I was losing a passion, if not even a sincere reason, to continue with my degree without
the human interaction of being in an in-person lecture, amongst friends and many people, and
as such I’d decided to put my degree on hold after my first term.

At about this time, the UK attempted to leave lockdown for the first time. My last few weeks of
working were quite stressful, as we were expected to keep up with stringent measures against
COVID-19 that we were simply not equipped for, and it made a job I once enjoyed quite
stressful. Once we were asked to come back during the UK’s first attempt at easing out of
lockdown, I knew those conditions were not worth the distress, especially since it was likely that
we would have to shut down again quite quickly regardless, so I simply asked to leave.

That left me, like many, many young people, without a job unexpectedly. After a long period of
unemployment, I’d been informed on the Kickstart programme by Universal Credit. To explain it
very briefly, Kickstart is a programme where the government pays companies the costs of
employing a person, and those companies are incentivised to offer 6-month contract jobs on the
Kickstart system where they are available to people in the age band of 18-25. It sounded like it
was absolutely worth having a look, and I was shown some of the jobs available to me.

While some sounded worthwhile, my work coach was clear with me that there were plenty of
options, and I could wait until one that really suited me cropped up. After only a couple of
weeks, one caught my eye and I’d asked if an interview could be set up. The next week, I was
sat down with my current bosses, where we had a very down-to-earth and reassuring interview –
I was somewhat nervous after such a long time out of the job market entirely, and this was very
helpful. Fortunately, I made the cut and now I’m working here today.

So, as you can see the process was quite painless in my experience, but how about the job
itself? The first thing that’s important to understand before I talk about my responsibilities and
what I do here is that while Kickstart is legitimate, legal employment, it should be inherently
different from a normal job in some ways. Namely, the job is specifically intended to also be a
form of training for the employee, somewhat like an apprenticeship, but with more broad
intentions for what you take away as opposed to a specific trade or skill.

That aside, my role at Atwood Tate is a very flexible and fluid one, it’s specifically designed like
this so I can take away a breadth of skills and ask to focus on tasks that I feel will give me the
skills that I feel are the most useful and important for me. Because of that, it ranges from
administrative work on the database of our clientele, to engaging with our candidates and
liaising between them and the companies they’re applying for to set-up interviews, to doing
exactly what I’m doing now – producing content for our social media channels. This is only
halfway through my contract, and I have a lot of avenues that I’ve been down and many to
potentially explore yet, such as producing video content.

I’m also offered training from my bosses in areas that I feel I could learn for general
employability – CV writing, communication, teamwork, whatever I felt could be taught to me I can
ask for if I feel I need improvement there. The atmosphere here is very sincere, tight-knit and
friendly and it made it easy to acclimate to my first experience in a more professional office
environment because of it.

From my experience, I really can’t recommend enough that anyone looking for a job in the
eligible age band at least tries Kickstart out once, has a look at what’s available and sees for
themselves. It’s been excellent for myself and many others I’ve talked to and, in my experience,
entirely worth the little effort it is to look.

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Should I consider a Kickstart Placement?

As the UK has exited the COVID-19 lockdown and looks forward to recovery as restrictions are eased, the uncertain question on many people’s minds is reentering the job market – not just how they should after a tumultuous stretch of financial uncertainty, but for some whether they should or not, if it’s worth it, and so on. Yet for many, the uncomfortable answer to that question stands as it is — despite some sectors experiencing vast vacancies, steady and desirable employment can still be difficult to find. Fortunately, in order to circumvent this, the DWP has created the Kickstart Scheme to help get young people into the job market.

Why do we need it?

The Kickstart Scheme was started up in the Autumn of 2020. Whilst many workers received furlough pay with the intention of job retention, over 2 million were nevertheless forced to receive unemployment to support themselves, with those between 18 to 24 years old disproportionately affected. This, compounded with the job market of the near future looking to be one of the hardest in several decades, due to employer’s having to close permanently, is exactly why a scheme like Kickstart is a much needed grace, when finding a job will be so deeply competitive and, frankly, brutal for those in the ever cramped graduate career market, further exacerbated.

What exactly is the scheme?

The principal premise of the scheme is that the DWP will reimburse businesses that appoint Kickstart employees by providing one hundred per cent of their salaries (at the country wide minimum/living wage) for 25 hours of work per week over a six month-long work placement. These salaries come out to:

  • £462 per month if they are younger than 18
  • £656 per month between 18 and 20
  • £836 per month between 21 and 22
  • £891 per month between 23 and 24

The employers are rewarded with keen employees who have the motivation and aptitude to adapt to a new environment. Naturally, through assuaging the prices of hiring and coaching younger (and generally much less experienced) employees, employers will be incentivised to take on younger and less experienced employees. In return, the Kickstart employee receives job stability and develops skills so that upon the end of the contract, if not permanently hired by the company, they have the skills and experience to move onto something more permanent or a stepping stone for where they hope to go. The scheme is managed by Jobcentre Plus, who have work coaches responsible for allocating compatible candidates for the placements.

In the best of scenarios, Kickstart employees have carried on at their job after the six month contract period. However, even if they do not, employees have come out with excellently developed job skills and in turn the necessary building blocks for professional development on a path to secure long-term employment into an overall better, forward-thinking job market for their skills.

When does it run until?

Only recently, the DWP has issued an extension on the Kickstart scheme that extends the time employers will be able to hire through the programme until March of 2022 — bear in mind that the deadline to create an application is 17th December, in one month’s time. It is possible that with enough support the scheme is extended further, but there’s no word on this so far and is realistically not the more likely outcome, so it’s truly now or never for prospective employees.

Is it worth it?

Feedback coming from successfully placed Kickstart candidates shows the satisfaction ratings seem strong and there is still a vast, vast array of jobs open – many you can find advertised on the jobs posting board on our website – that are sure to have something suitable for any young person looking to find an avenue into a professional life, from a truly diverse range of sectors and types of position.

Ultimately, the Kickstart scheme has proven its worth to many budding employees and we here at Atwood Tate almost always see amazing outcomes for both parties upon a successful Kickstart placement. If you are in the age bracket and looking for work, do consider inquiring at your local Jobseeker’s if only for this reason, bearing in mind the roles on offer are deceptively great, and get onto the scheme.

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