Kickstarting success for young job seekers

A scheme to give young people unemployed or not in education a chance has been hailed a major success – and now more opportunities are planned.

The Kickstart programme gives out-of-work 16 to 24-year-olds a total of six months employment and also training and support to help them secure a full-time job.

The council took on 30 young people earlier this year on the government-backed scheme and 20 have now gained employment either at the authority or elsewhere.

Just last week a further 14 young people were taken on and now 34 council managers have agreed to offer more positions in January and February.

Those employment opportunities will be advertised through the Job Centre in December.

Councillor Glyn Nightingale, the council’s cabinet member for resources, said: “It really is heartening to see these young people grabbing their opportunities with both hands.

“Of course, it’s great for the 18 who now have full-time work. The others can take heart too that they now have valuable experience they move forward with their lives.

“Local talented, hard-working young people deserve the chance to find careers right here close to where they live.”

A few short months ago Connor Donnelly was unemployed and, “very bored with no money…and increasingly worried.”

Now he has been offered a job at the council and became the authority’s first young person on the Kickstart scheme to gain employment.

“I’m just overjoyed,” says the 20-year-old of Dormanstown, who worked in youth services at the council to gain experience as a ‘kickstarter’ but has now gained a job in the authority’s business support.

Connor was referred to the council’s Kickstart programme by the Jobcentre after being without work since the first pandemic lockdown.

Meanwhile, Gemma Brown took the decision to consult a work coach after she graduated with a degree in psychology which has led to her taking a chance on the Kickstart scheme.

And it’s already led to success with the 22-year-old from Redcar being offered a new, six-month contract directly from the council.

Gemma was unsure of her career path after completing her Psychology degree at the University of Sunderland.

That was when she made the decision to seek assistance from a work coach who told her about the Kickstart scheme.

“I knew this would be perfect for me,” said Gemma. “It allowed me to get an income whilst gaining work experience.”

Gemma was offered a job working for the Youth Service which was the perfect chance for her to get experience in working with various people.

The scheme also gave her the opportunity to attend and get qualifications for fully funded courses such as first aid, mental health awareness and de-escalation techniques.

A few months into her placement, Gemma was given the opportunity to undertake some further work experience within Redcar and Cleveland Registrar Service whilst being part of the Kickstart Programme. This raised her interest in the history of registration and how it developed over time.

“This was a completely different avenue and a new challenge for me,” she said.

“After working here for a few weeks, I have decided that I see this as a potential long-term career.”

Her hard work has paid off as Gemma has been offered a new contract with the registration team.

Gemma said she is grateful to the Kickstart programme officers for the continuous support they offered her in the process, helping her with problems and questions, no matter how big or small.