Learning from the Kickstart Scheme

Learning from the Kickstart Scheme

What is the Kickstart Scheme?

The Kickstart Scheme was established by the UK Government in response to unemployment created by the Covid-19 Pandemic. The Scheme provides those aged 16 to 24 with valuable opportunities to gain employment and develop new skills.

The Scheme supported employers of any size to cover 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage depending on the age of the participant) for 25 hours per week for a total of 6 months (including associated employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment pension contributions) with start dates up until 1st March 2022.

Inspiralba coordinated and supported social enterprises and community-based organisations with Kickstart placements in Argyll as a Gateway organisation.

Inspiralba is dedicated to supporting young people into employment and help to fight the depopulation of rural communities. We encouraged as many young people and employers to get involved with the Kickstart Scheme to allow us to address these issues.

The Scheme was an ideal opportunity for young people and employers alike to benefit from employability placements. As an organisation we supported 20 employers and coordinated over 65 placements with 46 of these placements being completed in full.


Benefits to the Community

While the Kickstart Scheme has helped address employability gaps within young people at a national level, it has also assisted in created opportunities for young people to find work in areas affected by rural depopulation such as Argyll and Bute.

Employers were provided with funding to support with training and certification in technical skills ranging from bike mechanics to governance training. The young people also received on-the-job coaching skills, as part of their overall development plan.

Giving the young people an opportunity to get into the workplace has resulted in many permanent contracts, modern apprenticeships and graduate placements being offered to participants of the scheme.


Case Study 1 – Ionad Chaluim Chille Ìle

What is ICCI?

Ionad Chaluim Chille Ìle was established in 2000 and was opened in 2002 as a Gaelic Language and Heritage Centre on the outskirts of Bowmore on the island of Islay. The Centre delivers a varied programme of Gaelic classes and activities, not only in Islay but throughout Argyll by distance learning.   It is currently developing its heritage resources.

Below are extracts from conversations had with Neil Woodrow – ICCI Manager and Kickstart employee Danielle Barker.

What kind of role did the organisation require?

Neil – “We wished to employ an additional part-time Heritage Officer to assist in this role and we wished for the candidate to be aware of the island’s unique Gaelic heritage, have some competence in the Gaelic language and to possess excellent IT and social media skills.”

Lets meet our Kickstart employee…

Name: Dannielle Barker

Age: 19

Location: Isle of Islay

Background: Danni left Islay High School in 2020 but didn’t not wish to attend University right away due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. She had not taken on a job previously as she had preferred to focus on her school studies.

Danni eventually decided that she would try to get some work experience during her time out of education. She became aware of a vacancy in the Islay Gaelic Centre and thought it sounded very interesting. She applied for the position and was successful.

What did you want to get out of the opportunity?

Danni – “I wanted to gain general work experience as this was my first job. I also looked forward to developing my current skills and learning new ones along the way. There was a possibility of adding my creative projects to my art portfolio for college/university. This seemed like a great opportunity to add experience to my CV/University application.”

What skills/experience did you gain?

Danni – “I wanted to improve my Gaelic and IT/ Social Media skills and to was looking to work on my interpersonal skills so that I would have more confidence when I went to university. I have built on these and now have additional skills in the area of public engagement. I also now have experience with new technology apparatus such as an iZettle machine and Clevertouch screen. I enjoyed the experience of working as a group on projects and can now effectively contribute and persevere with the tasks given. My skill sets have improved greatly since taking the position and I feel I am a more optimistic individual.”

Neil – “Fortunately, due to Danielle’s hard work and commitment we were able to offer her an extension to her contract to help complete some of our projects before she goes off to University.”

What are the next steps in your employment journey?

Danni – “Since my 6-month placement has ended, I will continue with my extension. There are various job opportunities available just now in distilleries, local businesses etc. So, if needed, I could get a job until my first term of university begins. I hope to go to University of Edinburgh or Abertay in Dundee to study animation/computer art and I think that my Kickstart experience has well prepared me for this.”

What advice would you give to those thinking about getting involved with employability programmes?

Danni – “I would suggest to a young person to take up the opportunities offered to them if it suits their needs. Enrolling in employability programmes such as Kickstart is beneficial and provides an opportunity to work and gain essential life skills. If the placement isn’t right for them, they can leave and possibly find a new one if they wish. However, I would encourage other people to look at projects like Kickstart but only if they get a placement which they will enjoy. That way you will get so much more out of the experience.

As for employers, they can benefit from the skills the employee brings to the job and it’s a good experience for the employer to see the kinds of people that are available for future employment opportunities, whether they’re temporary or permanent. If the placement is a success, both employer and employee succeed as the employee gains skills and a good rapport, and the employer gains a hardworking individual who will provide a positive image for the business and may boost its success.”

What do you think about employability schemes and would you use them in the future?

Neil – “While they may not be for everybody, employability schemes are an excellent means of letting young people have an introduction to work, enabling them to discover what skills need upgrading and to work on these skills.  It leaves them much better equipped to make future career choices.”

Key Take Away

People like Dannielle have thrived from being involved with Kickstart. She obtained meaningful work in her local community whilst trying to figure out her next step. She has worked hard, developed both professionally and personally and was rewarded for her efforts. As a gateway organisation, Inspiralba supported this placement through the creation of a personal development and training plan.

The Island of Islay, Scotland.

Case Study 2 – Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust

What is IGHT?

The Isle of Gigha was put on the market in 2001 and the community were encouraged to purchase and own the island. Gigha was handed over to the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust (IGHT) on the 15th March 2002. The Trust is managed by a Board of voluntary Directors. There are several subsidiary companies in place to generate income to the Trust that helps to continue to develop the island.

Below are extracts from conversations had with Jane Millar – Development Manager, Bryony White – Head Gardener and Kickstart employee Kacper Kasperowicz.

What kind of role did the organisation require?

Bryony – “The trust came to us to fund and support a gardener role through the Kickstart Scheme. The young person would be involved in restoring Achamore Gardens which involved a wide variety of tasks including learning about plants and plant care, lawn maintenance, weeding, seed sowing, planting, and clearance. The young person would work as part of small team and would require good communication skills for interacting with the public.”

What did the business want to get out of the placement?

Jane – “The business wanted the opportunity to engage young people in the work of the Trust. Particularly at Achamore Gardens, we are keen to sustain an apprentice scheme and have on-going posts available. The Kickstart Scheme offered us a trial, as it allowed both the employer and employee the opportunity to see if the role was a good fit.”

Let’s meet our Kickstart employee…

Name: Kacper Kasperowicz

Age: 21

Location: Kintyre

Background: Prior to the pandemic, Kacper was studying Business at University. Covid implications, the change in learning conditions, and poor rural broadband caused him to struggle with online learning and he decided to take a break from education. Kacper’s work coach referred him to a variety of Kickstart opportunities, and he was successful in his application for the role at Achamore.

What skills and experience have you gained?

Kacper – “I have learnt all about plant identification, tractor driving, tree planting, drystone walling, plant propagation, pruning, lawn maintenance, public engagement, drainage maintenance and how to work as part of a small team. “

What did you want to get out of the opportunity?

Kacper – “I wanted the opportunity to change career path and use Kickstart as a way to explore a completely different sector. Prior to Kickstart, I didn’t realise how much I would enjoy working outdoors.”

What are the next stages in your employment journey?

Kacper – “I am moving on to a full time 24-month Modern Apprenticeship in horticulture. I am excited to advance my skills and knowledge in horticulture and see the difference from the start to the end of the apprenticeship. I am also excited to see the positive impact I can make at Achamore Gardens as part of the restoration plans.”

How did Kacper benefit the organisation and why was he was offered the apprenticeship?

Bryony and Jane – “Kacper has proven to be an excellent fit with the garden team and shown a real attitude for horticulture, which has surprised both Kacper and the gardens team given he has no prior experience in the sector. Kacper’s willingness to learn and engage in the role despite it originally being a 6-month post is why we have offered Kacper the opportunity to progress into an apprenticeship.”

How do you think the support of the employer and Inspiralba Ltd has helped you to develop?

Kacper – “I have found the employer to be very accommodating to any issues I have encountered throughout my placement, and they have helped me grow in both knowledge and confidence. This has been a good exercise in networking, and it has also, by sheer virtue of working outside, improved my physical fitness and overall health. Inspiralba’s monthly reviews have allowed me to recognise the skills I have developed and work I have accomplished on a regular basis.”

Bryony and Jane – “Inspiralba have offered us continued support through regular check-ins and communications. “

Key Take Away

From employability placements like Kickstart, employers are willing to help grow and develop our young people. Organisations such as IGHT are leading the way by offering young people employment through modern and graduate apprenticeships. These opportunities are often available both locally and online.  This allows them to stay in their local community and gain a high level of qualification while being paid to do so.

Kacper hard at work in Achamore Gardens.

Case Study 3 – Kintyre Recycling Ltd

What is KRL?

Kintyre Recycling (and their predecessors Campbeltown Waste Watchers) has been delivering waste diversion and management activities – which in turn creates employment opportunities and support for those who face barriers to employment – for the Kintyre community for 20 years.  The organisation operates as a charity with the ethos of maximising the value of waste for community benefit in south Kintyre.

The organisation operates as a social firm and employs 5 people, of whom 2 have special needs, 2 are volunteers. Kintyre Recycling also recently took on 3 Kickstart placements. The enterprise delivers a range of reuse activities, currently operating a Furniture Reuse Shop, E bike hire, Cycle Servicing, PAT Testing and Security Shredding services. They have also trialled a bike Reuse project and currently a Furniture Reuse Shop.

Below are extracts from conversations had with David Conner – Business Manager and Kickstart employee Kelvin Taylor.

What kind of role did the organisation require?

David – “The outline for the Bike Technician is to have someone who is also a keen cyclist as most customers can then relate to the Technician. Kelvin came to us with this so it made the choice easy, he also showed an ease with the our Bike Coordinator at interview. Workwise, Kelvin’s role would be to hire out Ebikes to the general public, organise bookings and do some bicycle servicing as he progresses through his mechanic qualifications with a Gold Velotech industry-standard award being our goal.”


Let’s meet our Kickstart employee…

Name: Kelvin Taylor

Age: 24

Location: Kintyre

Background: Kelvin lives in Campbeltown and has a young family. He got involved with the Kickstart Scheme because he was unemployed at the time and applied for the role through the local Job centre. Kelvin has a passion for bikes and the work coaches helped him to identify an opportunity for a bike mechanic at Kintyre Recycling Ltd..

Why did you choose this opportunity?

Kelvin – “I’ve always had a bike and I just like messing about and working on them and now I have kids that need their bikes as well. I just love going out and exploring my local area on my bike and to help other people do what make me feel very happy.  I worked through the summer months as a gardener and landscaper so I was fortunate that this opportunity came along during the winter so I could support my family, set a good example to my children and do something I am passionate about.”

What skills and experience have you gained?

Kelvin – “I have gained the ability to work more independently. Before this role I was always working as a member of a team or as a partnership. I always have had a keen interest in bikes, but I have now concreted my learning and am able to maintain, repair and service bikes to a good standard. I completed my Bronze level bike mechanic course so this has given me a certified qualification but I can also put the qualification to good use in my role. I feel I have gained a lot of confidence in general but especially when dealing with customers”

How has Kelvin helped to benefit the organisation and why do you want to support him in the future?

David – “Having Kelvin start when he did really helped KRL which is going through a restructure at the moment. He brought a freshness to KRL, offering his thoughts and willingness to learn which makes others want to work alongside him. Going forward KRL would like to see ourselves being able to offer Kelvin long term employment so we can train him in new skills”

How has the support of the organisation helped you?

Kelvin – “I feel really good because from the very beginning David has supported and believed in me and he really wants me to get kept on. It’s a full-time job which I have grown in confidence with. David has always supported and encouraged my learning by enrolling me on training courses.”

Why is it important to have people who are passionate about their work?

Kelvin – “I want to learn as much as I can and do well. It’s not often you get a job that you really enjoy. I am grateful for this opportunity. I like the fact that I can come in get on with and get the job done to a good standard. I hope to continue to work with KRL in the future as it’s a great opportunity, I love working here.”

Key Take Away

Individuals like Kelvin add real value to the organisations they work for. They are driven to learn and do the best they can because they have a passion and a real interest in what they are doing. They believe in themselves and have confidence even when facing challenges.  Having a passionate workforce leads to higher productivity and a happier workplace.


The Kintyre Recycling Ltd team.

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