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Case Study: Kickstart Scheme


Purple case with word study on the front.  Kickstart Scheme Case Study graphic

The Kickstart scheme was a UK-wide government initiative to help young people to gain work experience and give them the confidence to enter or re-enter the workforce following the pandemic, which unfortunately had a disproportionate impact on young people. The scheme involved a mixture of training and work experience. The Department of Work and Pensions placed each young person into roles with employers who undertook to support, encourage, train and mentor the young people, giving them the confidence to either continue in the role with that organisation or move into a role elsewhere. The scheme provided the work experience needed to overcome that old conundrum: "Can't get a job without experience. Can't get a job without experience."


Many small organisations would have found the administrative tasks required to take part in the task too time-consuming. For this reason, the Government allowed certain organisations to set up as Gateway organisations so that smaller companies could get involved more easily. By doing so, this also assisted smaller organisations to take on staff to increase their growth and thus add to the overall economic growth of the UK.


My role in the scheme

I am proud to have been involved in this scheme in a small way. I worked in a team of four people to run a National Kickstart Gateway. The team consisted of the Managing Owner of the organisation, a bookkeeper who carried out all the financial management on the scheme, two Kickstarters across the duration of the project, each on a six-month placement, and myself, running the administration, organisation and training as well as liaising between the organisation, employers, employees and the Department of Work and Pensions.


The Managing Owner chose me for the project because I have both public and private sector experience as well as HR admin knowledge and can quickly grasp issues, understand complex documents and precis those in a way that allows for easier digestion either in writing or verbally.


For this project, I was responsible for the following:

  • All the administration

  • Most of the liaison between the various Department of Work and Pensions teams across the UK

  • Sourcing and managing the training plus issuing the completion certificates

  • Liaising with the employers and employees

  • Providing all information relating to the scheme to employers and employees

  • Providing all relevant management reporting and statistics

  • Answering any queries that arose from either employers or employees.

  • Organise webinars for employers and employees

  • Train and mentor both Kickstart Employees, one of whom went on to gain a role he is enjoying.

Unusually, our gateway provided a number of training webinars for our employers to help them recruit the right person for their company, provide advice about HR and support with training and developing their young person effectively.


Our Gateway provided comprehensive information relating to every step of the application, recruitment and training process with both an initial handout and a set of emails which went out automatically at key points in the process, ensuring that our employers always knew what was happening. The employees got regular emails keeping in touch with them and advising them of the additional webinars and training that we had on offer for them to choose from. I wrote all of these information documents and emails as well as managing their dissemination using a mixture of automation, scheduling and live posting as appropriate.


Challenges:

The project was not without challenges, of course. At times there were delays in the process which caused frustration and led to some difficult conversations. However, keeping everyone as up-to-date as possible and keeping an open dialogue with our employers meant that when something was a concern, they felt they could come to me with the issue and be confident that I would do my utmost to resolve things for them.


As with all large projects, whether public or private sector, there were points where things went wrong, communications were misunderstood, or the processes were changed to improve the overall working of the scheme. Again, being flexible and understanding, disseminating new information as it arose and ensuring this went out promptly all created trust and went a long way toward reducing frustrations.


There were a number of adjustments to the scheme as it went along. I had a weekly meeting with a senior Department of Work and Pensions manager in which I was briefed on any changes, and we discussed any issues that had arisen on either side. A shared spreadsheet allowed us to ensure recruitment was proceeding as fast as was feasible and discuss any areas of concern. This worked incredibly well and meant that our Gateway got excellent feedback from the DWP Manager on our performance, reactivity and ability to manage concerns swiftly and appropriately.


There was a lot of administration involved in the project and my work-life balance did suffer at times. The DWP did tell me at one point that our Gateway was one of the larger ones and that some of the smaller gateways had a team of administrators involved to support a smaller number of employers and employees. I must admit, I was super proud that the bookkeeper and I managed the project so successfully with just the two of us. We were in regular contact and ran our respective parts of the process via a shared spreadsheet, a lot of WhatsApp messages and emails, plus regular phone calls. It was a pleasure to work with someone as knowledgeable and efficient as she was, and I often had cause to ask for advice on the financial aspects of the project since that is most decidedly not where my strengths lie. She was always really clear in her explanations which in turn allowed me to go back to the employers to explain things. That in itself allowed several difficult situations to be resolved quickly.


Outcome:

Over 50% of our employers consistently rated us as excellent on all measures of scheme administration as well as on our knowledge of the scheme itself and ability to advise accurately and efficiently, particularly when issues arose.


53% of our employers told us that we had made it easy and straightforward for them to access the scheme.


67% of our employers rated our training as very good or excellent.


I am so proud to have been involved in such a worthwhile scheme which made a real difference to young people and employers across the UK. Almost 47% of our employers were able to take on permanent staff as a result of the scheme. Of those young people who could not be taken on by their employer, 56.5% went into either full or part-time work with another employer. We estimate that around 70 to 80% of our young people did gain work due to the scheme.


Lessons Learned:

As with all large projects, it wasn’t without issues. I think it helps that I love a spot of problem-solving, particularly where people are involved, and I won’t give up until I have an answer.


I really enjoyed working with both our Kickstarters and learned a lot about how young people view the world of work, which is useful in my HR Administration work.


I was able to use my HR support skills to help employers and employees and found that incredibly rewarding.


From a purely practical viewpoint, I gained a range of new skills, which all my clients can now benefit from. These included learning to create email automation, increasing my knowledge of Eventbrite and improving my facility with Canva – the training booklets and key documents were all created in that package. I also learned how to create effective feedback forms and honed my skills in supporting team members with their training and development.


It was great to be able to bring my experience in the public sector into use again and expand on that. There is a different way of writing and a different approach to things within the public sector, and I was pleased to find that my skills hadn’t left me, even though it had been a while since my last public/private sector role.


This project exercised all my skills of organisation, planning, time management and most of all, communication, and it was a fabulous challenge. I enjoyed being part of a project that made a real difference in people’s lives and working alongside so many dedicated people within the DWP.

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