Picture credit: Buro Millennial

In 2021, The Young Foundation recruited a diverse group of 22 young people via the government’s Kickstart scheme, introducing them to research careers.  

Kickstart ran between September 2020 and March 2022 and provided funding to create new jobs for 16- to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit at risk of long-term unemployment. 

As The Young Foundation’s final cohort completes the programme, our evaluation report shares our journey and the lessons we’ve learned – along with recommendations to provide effective and enduring support to young people entering the workforce. 

Key drivers 

As an organisation working to tackle employment and social inequality, our involvement in the programme reflects three key drivers:  

  • UK youth unemployment. Diversity and place-based inequalities are barriers preventing young people finding ‘good’ work. Many of these inequalities were compounded by Covid-19.  
  • Lack of diversity within the research profession. With the Social Research Association (SRA), in 2021, The Young Foundation published a ground-breaking report into diversity in the social research sector. Acutely aware the profession has not gone far enough to create accessible routes in, the Kickstart scheme provided an opportunity for The Young Foundation to incorporate recommendations from that study into our day-to-day practices. 
  • Our mission to develop best practices in participatory research. Kickstart provided a learning ground to build and test our Peer Research Network 

Critical to our approach was the aim of considering personal and professional development support. Additional funding from the Youth Futures Foundation and Mohn Westlake Foundation enabled us to provide this, while paying the young people at Living Wage Foundation rates. 

‘Significant value’ 

Between May and October 2021, we employed three cohorts of Kickstarters, although today’s report focuses on the experiences of the first two cohorts. In total, 22 Kickstarters were recruited and trained at The Young Foundation throughout the programme.  

The Young Foundation’s Director of Research, Victoria Boelman, reflects: “Both during and after the placements, we collected feedback from our Kickstarters on their skills development and wellbeing, as well as reflections on the programme and their personal journey. They told us our approach generated significant value to them personally. It was also hugely valuable in the research developed, and for us as an organisation. It shows that when young people are given a chance they can successfully transition into careers that may have previously been opaque and roles that felt out of reach.  

“That said, this was not a smooth journey. Our experience with Kickstart has exposed clear flaws in the way the scheme was developed by the DWP, and we have learned a lot about how we could improve the implementation of placements with us in future. This report summarises key lessons learned, which I hope will support others looking to fund or run similar employment programmes.” 


Read the evaluation report, and explore our Kickstarters’ research. 


Education & Employment Families & Youth Inequality Peer research Posted on: 21 July 2022


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