Leading by example

Julie Eastwood, Business Manager, Kennedy Scott Canterbury

This week Megan at Kennedy Scott Canterbury will be celebrating one year of employment since being referred to us as a customer.

Like a lot of 18-24 year olds Megan had found it difficult to find work. But like others Megan had enormous potential and we helped her recognise it.

Like many of the employers we work with locally, we had needs that a Work Programme customer could meet, so Megan joined us as an apprentice. On completion, she developed her skills further to become a permanent Employment Adviser. Within a year Megan’s life is back on track.

Megan is just one of many Work Programme success stories. Every week new customers are referred to Kennedy Scott by a Job Centre.

When they arrive, we try to make our services as accessible as possible. We start by introducing them to everyone in our friendly team, because it’s important to us that a visit to us isn’t a daunting or scary process.

After a one-on-one induction we offer a range of workshops that help our customers get ready for work, these include help with CVs, application forms, interview technique, personal presentation, understanding the hidden job market and using digital media to find work.

Several external providers also hot-desk in our centre, these include specialists in housing, drug and alcohol problems and money advice, some of the more complicated barriers to work some of our customers face.

Many 18-24 year olds, like Megan, come to us with no employment history and no idea what they want to do with their lives.

We find that work placements can be an invaluable first step on the ladder, getting something meaningful on their CV, building confidence and getting used to the lifestyle of work. Sometimes things others take for granted, like setting the alarm clock to get to work on time, take some getting used to if you’ve been out of work for a long period of time.

Apprenticeships also offer an excellent pathway to success. In Canterbury we have two apprentices amongst our staff who can give our young customers a personal reference about this option and a great deal of encouragement to follow their lead.

At Kennedy Scott we love to see our customers gain employment and take that initial step forward towards a changed life. But the relationship with us doesn’t end there. We stay in touch, through a monthly call and offer any additional training or support required to help them stay in work. We know that the first months in work often involve coming off benefits and are sometimes a difficult time financially. We offer help with clothing or travel costs to ease the burden where we can.

Megan and others in our team have shown just how successful the Work Programme can be. We are glad to have been able to benefit as an employer as well play a role as a Work Programme provider and I hope this demonstrates the confidence we have in the service we offer and the people who come to us for help.