Happy Anniversary Kennedy Scott - 30 years today!

30 years ago today I left a good steady job in London to start out on my own with the support and backing of some good friends. Kennedy Scott was conceived and launched in Cole Street, SE1, in an old spice warehouse, in collaboration with our old parent company, The Principals, a trendy design company.

I was lucky, as I started with the confidence and support of a major client, BP International Group Training, for whom I delivered Supervisory Management Training and IT/business Administration for their Youth Training Scheme. Exciting opportunities followed, including designing and delivering a Customer Care course for the Gleneagles Hotel (Yes that’s right THE Gleaneagles hotel – where they host the Golf championships) a fantastic opportunity for me, which entailed staying at the five star hotel and training their managers, along with my co-Tutor Paul Fury. Whom, I had met fortuitously the day he left the Sheraton Park Tower in Knightsbridge and we worked on the programme together from start to finish.

Kennedy Scott grew steadily and when the recession hit, our parent company badly affected and in 1991 I bought out Kennedy Scott and moved the offices to Rickmansworth, on the Met line tube, where it has been ever since. Government contracts beckoned and in those days there were no strict rules on bidding size, no word count or E-submissions. I remember vividly carrying huge manuscripts of bid proposals to Grays Inn road hand-delivering them by the deadline to the Employment service as it was then.

Our proposals were innovative and often went above and beyond the funding envelope – for example offering 2 Tutors instead of 1 on the pilot programme for Gateway to Work. We got the best results and went on to win half of the CPA allocation for London, with the Minister, the late and quite magnificent, Dame Tessa Jowell, choosing to launch the national GTW programme at our Luton centre.

Kennedy Scott developed an excellent reputation for special projects and we became the go to provider for anything different the department wanted to try out or develop a pilot for. The Metropolitan Police Programme and the Black Taxi Fast Track Knowledge programme were two I am the most proud of. The Met Police programme, cited in the ERSA report on Race Ethnicity and Employment, last autumn was aimed at encouraging and recruiting better representation from local and minority ethnic groups and women into the Met Police – a programme they could well do with today. It spanned four years (was retendered with ESF and DWP funding) and created a phenomenal and groundbreaking collaboration between the Met Police, JCP and Kennedy Scott. A four week rolling programme across London entailed setting up in Islington for four weeks and then taking everything down and setting up again in Southwark for the following month’s course.

It was a very intensive programme which offered the chance of a good job with excellent pension and progression prospects, to customers who would not ordinarily be eligible to apply, in that they did not have 5 GCSE’s. All other standards were upheld apart from the qualifications and we looked for customers with a good background in customer service or past experience in a public facing role. The four week full time course, also with two tutors, deconstructed the 5 x competencies needed for the competency based interview at the end of the programme. If however, the candidate did not have the experience needed for a competence, we provided this opportunity within the training programme so they had the relevant scenario to call upon within the tough interview process. When the Met Police ran blanket recruitment drives across London they achieved about 10-15% of candidates from a BAME background. However under this format, starting with a targeted open day often held in local community centres, such as the Stonebridge Park estate community centre, where we achieved a groundbreaking 75% recruitment from BAME customers from local communities across London. Kennedy Scott’s Metropolitan Police Recruitment Programme went on to achieve a prestigious National Training award at a ceremony held in the Whitehall Banqueting Chambers, attended by the entire team at KS – I was a very proud CEO that day.

In the last ten years Kennedy Scott has concentrated more upon helping those most marginalised in our society, find and sustains work to achieve independence from benefits. Supporting customers to grow and to reach for their very own star, such as Callum, who came into our centre in Leeds and said, he wanted to work in a castle. Callum has aspersers and suffers from anxiety, but our incredible KS caseworkers sought tirelessly to find him his dream job. And they did - at Alnwyck castle restaurant, with the opportunity to also give tours to small groups, where he now shares his extensive knowledge of the castle and its occupants! Callum remains a great ambassador for KS, speaking about his journey at conferences and is an inspiration to other people in a similar situation.

Happy birthday KS, you have achieved some amazing things for your even more amazing customers, and incredible staff- thank you to everyone who has helped us to achieve all this. Teamwork is the key, and we are not a team without you all. THANK YOU.