Kickstart: A Retrospective

Amira Cidam2022, Article, Kickstart

Kickstart: A Retrospective

In February 2021, Premier Advisory Group (PAG) was approved by the DWP as a national Kickstart Gateway, focusing on schools. The £2 billion scheme was launched in September 2020, enabling organisations across the UK to recruit government funded 16–24-year-olds. The scheme was designed to provide work opportunities for people in receipt of Universal Credit and considered at risk of long-term unemployment. With entrance to the scheme ceasing in April 2022 the final placements are now coming to an end. The Kickstart scheme, via PAG’s gateway, has helped hundreds of young people to access valuable work experience in the education sector and in some cases, provided a direct route to full time employment 
In just over a year, PAG recruited over 300 Kickstarters in roles within education settings. In parallel, PAG delivered a highly commended employability programme, delivered by a small team which worked intensively with the individuals recruited. The programme was introduced to help support schools as well as their new staff and included a variety of support including monthly check ins, group discussions, online training and a 2-day course focused on honing the skills required to get find a job and to thrive in it. 

Feedback from our Kickstarters

We asked our Kickstarters to share their views on PAG’s employability programme; 

‘The two-day training course taught me the most, especially the diversity icebreaker as it allowed me to understand how each person has a different communication style and what the best way is to communicate with them. I also really struggled with sending a professional email and now I’m much more confident in doing so.’  

‘I really liked the idea of having a variety of different methods for providing the online information- Semi interaction, video explanation, group discussion, it made it more absorbing and fun!’ 

PAG’s employability team worked exceptionally hard over the last few months in keeping the platform going and their hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. The majority of Kickstarters on the scheme stated that the thing they appreciated the most was the support offered. Although they had check-ins each month, the employability programme inbox was always checked for queries, so that the team could offer support in-between check-ins if needed. One Kickstarter commented on the team’s dedication:  

‘I appreciated how quickly you dealt with any challenges that came to light and offered any extra support needed’. 

Kickstarters at PAG

Critics of the scheme point to the fact that only 100,000 roles were filled against a target of 250,000. However, from PAG’s perspective, it was a great success. 

PAG hired 17 Kickstarters via the scheme, many of whom have stayed on at the company following their six-month placement. Some of our Kickstarters now hold roles within the company as associate consultants, researchers and in our operations team. Destinations for the PAG Kickstarters who have gone onto other things include  Recruitment coordinator at Amazon and a Fulbright Scholarship in Ohio. 

One of PAG's Kickstarters said:

I was fresh out of college with very minimal experience. Landing an opportunity to progress within my career seemed almost impossible. I joined the Kickstart Scheme and struggled to find the correct fit for my goals and ambition. However, this all changed when I was presented with an opportunity to become finance assistant at PAG. A year later, I am now thriving in my role as a Finance and Payroll Officer and studying further accountancy qualifications. I will be forever grateful for the Kickstart Scheme, for providing the steppingstone I needed to get into the world of finance.’ – Autumn, Finance and Payroll Officer

Employers have been equally please with Scheme:  

‘The Kickstart Scheme has provided opportunities for those struggling to get into work and for our pre-school business to share what it's like to work with children. Some of our successful Kickstarters have since started permanent positions with us or embarked on an apprenticeship. It has been a worthwhile scheme for all during a particularly difficult time regarding the impact that COVID has had on individuals and businesses. - Crafty Wizards

Reflecting on the Scheme as it comes to an end, Tom Legge, PAG’s MD had the following to say: 

‘Brave is a loaded term in politics. Questions will remain around many aspects of government policy during the pandemic. PAG has always focused on outcomes and in this regard Kickstart was an unqualified success in that it provided life chances for thousands of young people. For PAG it was a brave decision to dedicate significant time and resource to establish a gateway for schools; a decision that I questioned on occasions. The doubts fell away with every placement we made. My final words are for our friends at DWP. Our National Account Manager was a credit to the Department and the civil service. I will use this retrospective to thank him and colleagues for creating something special.’  

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