Offploy decided to become a Kickstart Gateway as it linked with the company vision and values of supporting people into meaningful employment. The scheme was launched in 2020 and offers work placements to people aged between 16 and 24 who are in receipt of universal credit and at higher risk of longer-term unemployment.
Not having a job and a sense of direction and purpose can have detrimental effects on our mental health and wellbeing. Many Kickstart candidates finished university in the summer of 2020 and found themselves in an unprecedented situation where jobs were scarce and human interactions were very restricted. As the pandemic restrictions eased towards the end of 2020, the Kickstart scheme enabled employers to create opportunities and placements for these young people to step into.
Within Offploy, there is a dedicated team working on the Kickstart scheme.
Amber is responsible for the administration of the project, which includes tracking progress of the kickstarters. Lucy is our training and development consultant who has created a programme that focuses on motivation, self-confidence, resilience and interview skills for the kickstarters during their 6-month placements. Anita is our employer engagement consultant who works to support the employers during the process and all of this is overseen by Joe, our Director of Service. He liaises with the team as well as the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure we are meeting all our obligations.
Of the 385 young people engaged in the scheme, 253 of these have successfully completed the 6-month programme. As the scheme moves into the latter stages, the target is to achieve a completion rate of at least 89%.
This is being worked towards through a combination of excellent work experience from the employers who have created the placements, the commitment and enthusiasm of the young people engaged in those placements and the guidance, support and training sessions delivered by the Offploy team. It has been noted throughout the scheme that resilience and confidence are just 2 of the key skills that are essential for sustainable employment. Offploy anticipates that 55-60% of candidates will achieve sustainable employment after their placement comes to an end.
Another key aspect of the programme is supporting the candidates who have experienced challenges with their mental health and wellbeing. One to one support is available, and we have a mental health first aider within the team. Job searching and interview processes can be mentally exhausting and leave people feeling inadequate and with feelings of hopelessness, so it has been important to acknowledge and support the kickstarters throughout the programme.
A word from our MD, Jacob Hill, on the success of Offploy's Kickstart programme so far:
At the end of the placement, full programme reviews are carried out with the candidates and employers. These focus on gathering feedback about the experience, what the benefits have been and whether the employer is keeping the candidate as a permanent member of their team. It is also an opportunity to listen to suggested improvements. While the scheme itself cannot be changed, we are always ready to listen to thoughts and suggestions that can positively impact those candidates still in their placements.