While the pandemic affected employment across all age groups and most industries, young people have been hit especially hard in the job market. In the U.K., unemployment figures among 16-24-year olds peaked at nearly 15% in mid-2020, before falling to 11% by November 2021. Still, the number of young people who are economically inactive remains above pre-pandemic levels.
In 2021, Kellogg’s Manchester, U.K., plant joined a government-run program, called Kickstart, that offers six-month job placements for young people unable to find work. Kickstart targets 16-24-year-olds who are already receiving Universal Credit, a social support program that offers unemployed or low-income youth monthly payments to meet basic expenses.
As part of the program, Kellogg arranged job placements in the engineering, maintenance, operations and occupational health departments of the factory. The jobs are a minimum of 25 hours per week and pay at least the national minimum wage or national living wage.
“The pandemic has limited the number of job opportunities in Britain as a whole. Some of our ‘Kickstarters’ have just completed a 2-year engineering qualification at a local college but there are limited opportunities to find a workplace placement,” said Andy. “By completing the scheme here at Kellogg, we hope they can go on and find further employment.”
For many Kickstart participants, the experience has been a valuable training ground to explore new work and career options.
“Going into a factory environment has helped me know what I would like to do and has given me invaluable experience and knowledge of how a food processing plant works,” said Scott U., a 24-year old participant in Kickstart at the Manchester plant. “The absolute commitment the company gives young people to not only work, but also train and gain experience that can be used in the future use is exceptional.”