From education to employment

From Portugal to Salford, Diana’s Kickstart success with employer this Employability Day

From Portugal to Salford, Diana's Kickstart success with employer this Employability Day

A North-West landlord is celebrating helping more than 50 young people get their careers on track as part of the government-backed Kickstart scheme ahead of Employability Day this Friday, 17th June.

The unemployment rate for people aged 16-24 peaked at 14.8%, or 606,000 people in July-September 2020 following the start of the pandemic, up from 12.3%.

Progressive landlord ForHousing, which owns and manages 24,000 homes across the North-West, was keen to join the Kickstart scheme to give local young people who were unemployed and on Universal Credit the chance to learn new skills and improve their life chances through six-month work placements.

Since September 2020, 54 ‘Kickstarters’ have been hired through the scheme by ForHousing, contributing 32,000 hours of work in over twenty different departments – ranging from income maximisation to digital support and waste management.

Of these, 91% completed their placement, significantly higher than the national average of 83%. To date, 17 have gone on to secure permanent employment within ForHousing.

The landlord treated the placements like short apprenticeships, ensuring each Kickstarter would be surrounded by a supportive team and have opportunities to get involved in multiple projects.  

22-year-old Diana Lourenco is one of the Kickstarters currently benefiting from the scheme. It’s providing a stepping-stone for her to make her dream of a career in business a reality.

Originally from Portugal, Diana moved to Salford on her own at the age of 16 to study, learn English and to have more life and work opportunities. She says it was a challenging time, but she was determined to make a new start.

Her mother and younger brothers joined her soon after and they moved into a ForHousing home together as a family in Salford.

Diana, who was on Universal Credit before securing her six-month Kickstart placement in ForHousing’s Employment and Enterprise team back in March, says the new role is helping her achieve her career ambitions and she is proud to be making a positive impact.

She is currently completing a Business Foundation Course at Manchester Metropolitan University before starting an International Business Degree there in September, just as her placement at ForHousing as an Administration Assistant finishes up.

Diana said: “It’s been amazing experience for me. I am developing new skills all the time, and it’s helping me with my writing and communication in particular. I know I’m learning skills I will use for the rest of my life.”

Before starting with ForHousing, Diana worked in retail, sales and at Manchester United. She says it was really useful experience, but it didn’t fit with her long-term goal to work in business in the way the Kickstart placement has.

Diana added: “I’m really excited for the future. I hope to do a Masters degree in project management after I complete my  International Business degree. I hope I can one day achieve my goal of a career in business and project management.

“I’m so excited for my future, I really hope I achieve everything I’ve set out to do!”

With the scheme closing in March, ForHousing is now exploring ways to replicate the model in other parts of the company. The landlord already has a commitment to supporting people of all ages into employment and skills opportunities through their Bright Futures scheme.

Martyn Hague, Executive Director of Customer at ForHousing said: “The Kickstart scheme has been life changing for so many young people who were struggling to find work.

“We are proud to have been host to so many young professionals like Diana with so much potential, who were ready for an opportunity and a chance to build a career. We believe change, not chance, improves lives and that’s what we’re passionate about at ForHousing.”

The Kickstart Scheme provided £2 billion in funding to allow businesses to create new jobs for 16- to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit to help those at risk of long-term unemployment.

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