Moneypenny, a leading outsourced communications company, has taken on five Kickstart employees for placements in IT and Tech Support, Business Change, People Planning and Sales and Account Management, at its Wrexham headquarters.
The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to employers in 2021 to create job placements for the one million 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit who are most at risk from long term unemployment. It covers six months’ salary at minimum wage for 25 hours a week. It is designed to help young people get work experience and learn valuable new business skills
Moneypenny has been tracking the progress of the new recruits, with the first one joining in early August, and reports great results so far. Hannah Williams Skinner Working Life Manager at Moneypenny, has the following tips to help employers get the most out of the Kickstart programme:
Make job descriptions clear and concise
Many of the candidates applying for Kickstart roles have had very little previous work experience, or experience of working in a larger company. It’s therefore important to use simple language and to keep job descriptions relatively straightforward, so that candidates without office experience can identify their skills that complement the duties, rather than being alienated by language they might not have seen before. For example, two of the original roles advertised – Sales & Account Manager Support – included terms such as ‘CRM’, which might have put off candidates who didn’t understand this term. This could explain why these were the last roles we filled.
Engage with the Jobcentre and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
When we first advertised our Kickstart positions there was very little contact with the Jobcentre who were coordinating the scheme and referring candidates for roles they thought matched their skills however DWP has enhanced the process as the scheme has progressed, and it’s now a lot smoother. Things also changed when we were told by the DWP that our vacancies were expiring. We arranged for the vacancies to be extended, and were offered the opportunity to join a job fair via Teams in order to advertise our roles. We asked if we could discuss all Kickstart roles available at Moneypenny and discovered that only one role was live!
Luckily we were able to resolve this, but the moral of the story is not to assume that everyone involved in the Kickstart process has the right info and to check and double check that your roles are live. I would also recommend employers take up any offers to attend job fairs, as we found this a valuable experience as we had the opportunity to speak to the job seekers to tell them about our vacancies
I would also encourage employers to take up any offer to conduct interviews at their local Jobcentre. Our local Jobcentre contact was passionate about the Kickstart scheme and really keen to help us make the interviews work. For those job applicants who didn’t reply to our adverts, the Jobcentre liaised with the Kickstart work coaches who were referring their candidates for the roles, and gave them a nudge to formally apply so we weren’t sitting around waiting for CVs. We keep our contacts at the Wrexham Jobcentre and North Wales DWP up to date at every step of the recruitment process.
Have a clear and timely recruitment plan
Know what your recruitment process will look like in advance – for line managers, book out their diaries with interview times and explain what the process will be like. It’s also important to manage expectations in terms of the candidates, who may be less experienced than managers are used to, and who will need extra support throughout their placement to ensure they feel happy and comfortable with what they’re doing.
For candidates, too many steps create confusion. We originally conducted a phone interview, skills assessments, a face-to-face interview and then made the placement offer. It was also a lot to take on for those who weren’t used to a complex interview process and could have disengaged or scared off a few of the candidates. After confirming the first couple of roles, we therefore removed skills assessments and telephone answering training in the candidates’ first two weeks, as we learnt that a quicker, simpler process paid dividends.
Over-communicate with candidates
Email the candidates and chase them if you receive no reply; liaise with the DWP, and ensure the candidates can easily travel to the office, that the hours suit them, that they understand the pay etc. I always ask candidates for their ‘turn offs’ and ‘non-negotiables’ as part of any interview process, to make sure we’re not setting someone up to fail if they need or want something we can’t offer.
We had an occasion where a very qualified and polished candidate was snapped up by another employer in the time it took us to interview and make a decision.
Be flexible. One candidate was unsuccessful for a particular role, but was better suited to another, which we quickly confirmed as we knew they were a great candidate and would fit the requirements of the alternative position.
Monitor placement progress
Schedule regular check-ins with each Kickstart candidate, especially during their first couple of weeks, to find out how they are finding things and what they’d like to learn more about. For example we tweaked one recruit’s start and finish times early on in their placement to make it easier for them to get the bus to and from work. The candidate’s manager recognised it was causing them stress, as the bus was often late and came once an hour, so we found a way around this.
It’s also useful to provide some more specific skills training sessions for Kickstart employees. For example, our recruits have benefitted from Communications Skills and Resilience training sessions.
It’s also essential to make sure the managers are happy and feel comfortable with their Kickstart employees’ progress and to find out if any questions or issues have arisen.
Joanna Swash, Group CEO of Moneypenny, comments: ‘I encourage companies across the UK to get involved in Kickstart and give a youngster a chance. There are thousands of talented, committed young people looking for employment, and who have a lot to offer, and I believe that thousands of small companies would happily provide the right young person with a six month paid placement, but they may feel they are too busy, or consider themselves too small, or don’t want any additional admin, or just don’t know about Kickstart.’
Hallie Morris who is in the People Planning Support team at Moneypenny said:
“I have already learnt so much already since I started working at Moneypenny and I am really enjoying meeting new people, learning new skills and experiencing different systems. It is great to be back in work with a fantastic team!”
Emily Williams, who is in the Business Change support team at Moneypenny added:
“The Kickstart scheme has been great because the work has been really varied, allowing me to build on and learn so many important skills, every day is different!|
For more info on Kickstart click here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/kickstart-scheme