My Kickstart Placement in Leeds Discovery Centre with over 1 million Artefacts
Kickstarting in the Council
In August 2021 Leeds City Council took on its first group of Kickstart placements. Kickstart is a government funded scheme designed to help young people aged 16-24 who are currently unemployed, get into work. The placements provide paid work for 6 months, during which time young people are supported to build skills, experience and confidence which hopefully results in employment at the end of the placement, and in the future.
Leeds Museums and Galleries took on two Kickstart placements, based at the Leeds Discovery Centre. The Discovery Centre is where we keep over 1 million artefacts that are not currently on display in our other eight museum and gallery sites. The Kickstart placements, called ‘Project Support Assistants’, have been supporting our Learning and Access Team in their work with schools and the public.
Here’s what Toby, 23, had to say about his experience of working in the Council, specifically in the museum service, so far.
What’s it like as a young person to join the workforce/the Council?
“In a word, surprising. When I came into this job I had very little idea of what it actually entailed, and even less so about the Museum Service beyond that they simply ran museums. As for working a job, whilst I had jobs before this would be my first proper 9-5 style job. So, it was a rather steep learning curve as I stepped in for my first day.
I quickly learned more about what my job entailed, which was a mix of digital work on things like the Facebook page and in person work on things like tours round the store and in person workshops. The digital work was already in my wheelhouse, as I am something of a techy person and I really enjoy that sort of thing, but the in-person work was something I’d never really done before. Especially working with the primary school children that come to the workshops, as the last time I’d really interacted with children that age was when I was one. Yet I ended up enjoying it and listening to the children as they asked questions and managed to figure things out, with just a little prompting.
Of course I wasn’t just suddenly left on my own to chaperone the children and that was another thing that surprised me, the amount of support given both from my direct boss and elsewhere in the Council. Little things as well, like little check ins every now and then from the Employment and Skills Team and keeping in contact with other kickstarts who started at the same time I did, helped me to settle in, especially when I had to take time off when I was ill. Never mind surprising, the amount of support frankly astounded me as it was so far from what I expected from working with a huge organisation like the Council.
The support came in handy as well as it wasn’t all easy sailing adjusting to working life. I’d never really had to monitor my own time before and sometimes felt troubled sitting down next to my boss and not actually having specific work to do all out all the time. A nice little chat with my boss later and I started actually allowing myself to take breaks to go and have a cup of tea or just stretch my legs and not look at a computer for a bit.
The other and far greater challenge was adjusting to working collaboratively with people from all different backgrounds. Across the team we cover a range from having a Masters degree to having attended Uni but not finished to having never done higher education. As a fairly independent worker it was difficult to learn when I should defer to others and their skills and listen to their advice and when I should speak up and try to lead things.
So yes, I’ve been surprised working for the Council. As it’s taught me my worth as a worker and increased my skillset whilst also helped me be better at the things which were already in there. I dare say it’s an unforgettable experience that I in no way want to end anytime soon.”
Toby has now secured a permanent position within Leeds City Council.
The government Kickstart scheme is open until March 2022 for any young person under the age of 24 who is currently claiming unemployment benefits. For more information, speak to your Job Centre work coach. If you want to find out about employment and skills in Leeds, please visit: https://employmentskillsleeds.co.uk/