Co-op – Kickstart - Supporting education and employment for young people

“The CWI enabled us to ensure that any Kickstart placements offered would have the greatest possible impact by reaching into in-need communities and creating an opportunity that may not have been accessible previously”

Danny Matthews, Co-op Apprenticeship & Community Resourcing Lead

When the global coronavirus pandemic took hold last year, nobody could have foreseen the massive impact that it would have on opportunities for young people.

With more young people working in the gig economy (flexible, temporary or short-term employment) than any other age group, and with a clear reliance on a buoyant labour market as they leave education, the pandemic has had a profound effect on young people from both an employment and a mental wellbeing perspective. In Co-op’s report the Ghosted Generation, 65% of young people told us they felt competition had increased so much post-pandemic that it felt impossible to get a job.

As an organisation, we were quick to react to the growing crisis and aligned our Co-op vision and community plans behind supporting ‘fair access to education and employment for young people’.

In July 2020 the UK government’s ‘Plan For Jobs’ was announced with a new employment programme, Kickstart, taking centre stage.  The objective of the programme was to provide new short term placements to help ‘kickstart’ a young person’s employment, whether they had been made redundant as a result of the pandemic, or if they’d just left school and were heading into a labour market devoid of opportunity.

What is Kickstart?

Kickstart is a Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) initiative which aims to connect unemployed 16-25 year olds with 6 month paid placements in employers across a variety of sectors and locations. The programme is funded by the DWP and requires employers to provide meaningful work to help develop employability skills.  The objective of the placements is to build a young person’s confidence and experience to then go on and secure more long term employment, either with the supporting employer or another organisation.

We recognised Kickstart as a way of creating opportunities for those young people impacted by the pandemic. We committed to 150 placements across retail, logistics, funeralcare, legal and support functions, with a full wrap around employability skills programme and community volunteering experience too.

Using the Community Wellbeing Index to target impact

We decided to take a new approach when choosing the right locations for our placements.

Typically, a business would identify locations where there are the most vacancies or the ‘best’ managers to define where opportunities would be. Whilst this is important, and we did consider these factors, our starting point revolved around where we could have the biggest impact on communities. This is where our Community Wellbeing Index (CWI) came in.

Using the data compiled as part of our CWI, we allocated a ‘score’ to over 2,000 communities across England, Scotland and Wales, in locations where we have Co-op representation (a store, funeral home, depot or office). The score considered indicators relating to disadvantage and included the levels of unemployment, the quality of education provision, free school meal rates and average household income within an area. We also overlayed the locations with government data on social mobility cold spots.

Using this insight, we were able to identify the locations where we could have the biggest impact by creating employment opportunities. Once the communities had been identified, we worked with the DWP to align with where their candidates were.  We also linked in with our business leads, to ensure that we selected locations with quality management teams and where there were likely to be opportunities after Kickstart.

Taking a data led approach to where we offer employment opportunities was, at the time, a new approach to a programme set up for us. The CWI enabled us to ensure that any Kickstart placements offered would have the greatest possible impact by reaching into in-need communities and creating an opportunity that may not have been accessible previously.

To date Co-op have taken over 30 individuals onto the programme with the remaining opportunities to be filled by the end of March 2022, marking the end of Kickstart.

By Danny Matthews, Co-op Apprenticeship & Community Resourcing Lead

Case Study Links

It looks like one of our systems has fallen over.

Our team is already patching it up, so please try again soon.

We care about the wellbeing of our local communities, which is why we are applying a few changes to our postcode search for you to find your local wellbeing score.

You can still find out about the great work involved throughout the Community Wellbeing Index on site.