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Sometimes You Just Need a Kickstart

David Hearn, Group Marketing Director at Integrated Logic | Jul 16, 2021

 

The UK Government’s Kickstart Scheme was launched during the COVID pandemic to create 6-month work placements for young people.   

We found out about the scheme through various Government announcements, which coincided with conversations that we were having internally regarding new staff requirements. We believed that if we hired through the Kickstart Scheme, we’d be able to get these people involved in the team in a way that we wouldn't be able to do otherwise. 
 

With our HR consultant researching the scheme in more detail and gaining an understanding of the process, we assessed what the opportunities and threats were, making sure that we were comfortable with the set-up and what our responsibilities would be. At this point, we reached out to CEDIA, and they jumped on board, explaining that they supported this initiative of getting new blood into the industry. They kept on top of the requirements — particularly when the Government changed the rules on not needing a minimum of 30 roles — and kept us informed. We felt like we were knocking on a very open door when we made contact with CEDIA and getting this enthusiastic response from them was very much appreciated. It matched our outlook for getting younger people involved in the company and it gave us the confidence that they would support us to take this forward.

CEDIA was extremely helpful during the process of getting us up and running on the Kickstart Scheme. They checked through our application and offered assistance to ensure we reached the approval process quickly and successfully and educated us on the type of training and support we need to provide.

 We identified Programming and Marketing as the two areas where there were opportunities. We defined the roles and looked at how the people would work, who they would report into, what kind of work we'd expect them to do, what our expectations should be, and set goals for performance. Once the job descriptions had been signed off, we posted these and then went through the interview stage, which included setting the candidates a task to complete to give us an idea of how they would approach the work we would be setting them. This allowed us to get an idea of what they were like as individuals and get a feel for their level of work.

We decided to take on three people, initially, through the Kickstart Scheme — Yasmeen Hanif and Christina Gadsby as Digital Marketing Executives and Andrew Hart Dyke as an AI Development Assistant. We set up an induction process for them — mapping out the first couple of weeks. Looking back on this now, we expected the hires to need the first month to get up to speed on everything. However, they picked everything up from the word go and within a week or two, were already contributing and making a real contribution to the team. 
 
From the start, we knew that if we were going to get involved with this scheme, we needed to do it properly — we wanted to structure it in such a way that at the end of the six months, all parties felt that they got something out of it. 
 
The scheme makes it clear that you have to train the candidates to help make them more employable at the end of the six months. Beyond that, it’s quite open and up to us what we do. We wanted this programme to be very collaborative, so from the start, we asked the three of them what they wanted to learn. This approach allowed us to move quickly with the training and tick all their boxes — in fact, I think we’d completed the level of training for the full six months in just the first month.
 

We wanted the team to come into work feeling motivated, and this has been achieved by the support and level of responsibilities that we’ve given them. We have regular reviews with the three hires to establish any issues that they may have, discuss training requirements —which is a key element to this scheme — and ensure that everyone is on track with meeting expectations. 

 

Our structure also includes a meeting every Monday morning to analyse how things went the previous week and to talk through their work for the upcoming week. We’ve found this approach works well as the group enjoys reflecting and getting feedback from the senior teams and understanding how they can move forward in their next activity. This allows us to develop monthly plans and see how the activities are contributing to the company moving forward.

What’s nice about having three hires, is that they have become a unit and support each other. I think if we had only taken on one person, it would have been harder for them to know their role in the company and assert themselves. Whereas, having a team of three, they are all confident in contributing fully to the role. So, I would recommend to any business who is looking to go down this route, to consider taking on more than one hire.

Young people have so much to offer, and I think that it’s a real shame that sometimes they are just looked upon in a negative light. I can honestly say that there isn’t one thing that I would change about Yasmeen, Christina, and Andrew’s attitude — they are enthusiastic about the company and what we do, are never afraid to come up with ideas, and have already made such a difference within the company

All three of our hires graduated last year, and we all know the difficulties that this age group has faced with trying to get jobs. Our team of three have not let this be an excuse, they’ve pushed themselves to get on the career ladder by getting involved with the Kickstart scheme, but also, using the time before the jobs became available to do charitable work and online training courses .

With regards to the funding aspect of this scheme, we get support with their salary over the six-month period, as well as funding to cover their equipment needs and access to external training alongside the training that we've been able to provide internally.  What this means is that we’ve been able to remove the barriers that are often in place when you employ someone new. That’s not to say that it's risk-free, as there is a lot riding on how the person will deliver in the role — they need to be contributors.


We’ve taken the view that we’d like this to work beyond the contract period — whether we get the benefit from it, or another company does. We understand that part of this scheme is to allow these young people to make their minds up as to what career they are interested in, as they are just starting out. Neither Yasmeen nor Christina studied digital marketing, but they wanted to try out the role to see if it’s for them. There is a date when the Kickstart Scheme ends, but we want our three hires to get to the end of it and feel comfortable with their experience and what they want to do next — whether it is to stay with us permanently or move onto another opportunity.

The most important thing to understand with this scheme is that it is a mutual benefit to both parties — the hires gain access to training and on the job skills that they wouldn't have access to otherwise, and we get people who are full of enthusiasm and can bring a new set of ideas and mindset to the company. 
 
I'm very proud of what we've achieved so far with the Kickstart scheme. Working with Yasmeen, Christina, and Andrew has been an inspiration. There’s nothing better than working with people at the beginning of their careers and helping them achieve their goals. We’ve been so happy that we’ve now taken on two more Kickstarters, with Alex Leonaard and Michael Callander joining the Programming team. 
 

The government scheme is open until the end of the year and is currently supporting a number of member companies find suitable Kickstart candidates. For more details, contact Emma McMylor on emcmylor@cedia.org or find out more online.

Written by David Hearn, Group Marketing Director at CEDIA Member company, Integrated Logic.

 
 
 
 

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