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.