The National Skills Academy for Rail

Kickstart Scheme Extended!

At the recent Conservative Party Conference, it was announced that the Kickstart Scheme would be extended, which allows businesses to provide government-funded jobs to young people. The extension gives employers until 17 December 2021 to submit the Kickstart Grant application, and recruitment activities are extended to 31 March 2022.


The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to create new job placements for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit, who are at risk of long-term unemployment. Employers of all sizes can apply for funding which covers:

100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage depending on the age of the participant) for 25 hours per week for a total of 6 months

Associated employer National Insurance contributions

Employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions

Training Allowance of £1500 per Kickstart Placement

NSAR – Your Kickstart Partner

NSAR have been supporting a wide variety of employers with their Kickstart activities, and we are extending our support further to ensure more employers and young people can take part in this scheme. The NSAR Kickstart Team are here to support you and your young people throughout the Kickstart journey, helping you get the most out of this journey.


Our support services are split into 2 main packages:


Support you with your Kickstart Grant funding application.


Preparation of your Kickstart job specs to help attract young people.


Interviewing interested young people either via video call or face to face at job centres


Full support for hiring and line managers throughout the Kickstart recruitment process, including Youth Engagement Training workshops.


Specialist Safeguarding support framework, online workshop, and key contact throughout the Kickstart placement.


Support and delivery of induction and onboarding process.


Access to the GoodHabitz e-learning platform for employability training throughout the Kickstart placement.


Full 1-2-1 pastoral support for your Kickstart placements from 7am to 7pm, including a bespoke progression plan, and monthly 1-2-1 sessions throughout the placement.


Additional pastoral support for young people with disabilities or additional needs by our qualified youth champions.


Monthly check-ins with line managers to discuss your Kickstarters' progress.


Offboarding plan and exit strategy for your Kickstart placements, to support them with their career journey.

Kickstart FAQs

I have everything ready, but we have not received any candidates?

NSAR can help. We are busy attending JCP’s across the Country, interviewing young people, and promoting multiple brands in the rail sector and beyond. Get in touch to see how we can help you.

I can only offer 1 Kickstart placement, can I still apply for grant funding?

Yes you can. Whether you are seeking 1 young person, or many, NSAR can support you throughout the whole journey. Get in touch to see how we can help you.

We want to take on young people, but do not have the resource to deliver the full wraparound support needed, can you help?

NSAR can support both you and the young people through our support packages, and are happy to discuss any additional needs you may have. Get in touch to see how we can help you.

When do I need to apply for Kickstart Grant Funding?

You have until 17 December to submit your Grant application. NSAR can support you with the application to ensure your best chance of success. Get in touch to see how we can help you.

When does the Kickstart scheme end?

Young people need to be in place by 31 March 2022.

Can I offer full-time roles for Kickstarters?

Yes you can, although DWP will only fund 25 hours per week at the relevant National Minimum Wage.

Our Success Stories

NSAR has been supporting a wide range of employers with Kickstart, including mentoring support for the young people throughout their placement. Read on to hear from some of the young people we have been supporting.

EngineeringUK – Business Administration Assistant

Name: Abdul Rahman

What were you doing before Kickstart?

Before I started my placement, I was at university studying Psychosocial Studies.

Why did you apply for a Kickstart placement?

I took up a place on the Kickstart Scheme because I wanted to develop practical work skills to jump-start my CV.

What did you hope to get out of Kickstart?

I hoped to learn new skills, increase my confidence and gain experience of working in a professional environment.

What have you got out of Kickstart so far?

I gained an understanding of how an organisation is run by interacting with other departments through different projects. I was also granted permission to volunteer at an Android developer conference. I was present at monthly team meetings and have been organising some of them too.

Have you faced any challenges during the Kickstart placement?

I faced challenges managing multiple projects/tasks but creating a project management tracker has allowed me to stay organised.

How have you been supported through the Kickstart placement?

I received support with improving my CV, project management and tracking tasks, internal and external training courses.

Network Rail – Communications Intern

Name: Megan Wilkinson

What were you doing before Kickstart?

I studied Graphic Design at University after I left school. Once I completed my Bachelors in 2020 I was unemployed for a year as a result of graduating during the pandemic.

Why did you decide to apply for a Kickstart placement?

I joined Kickstart to see what employment opportunities were available to me as I was unemployed, and to learn new skills that would help make me more employable.

What did you hope to get out of the Kickstart placement?

Rebuild my confidence in a professional working environment. Learn new skills, have opportunities to work on projects that could contribute to my design portfolio. Networking opportunities.

What have you got out of the Kickstart placement so far?

I have gained important PR experience, writing press releases and drafting communications plans. I have gained greater confidence in myself. I got the opportunity to work on several design projects for ‘Scotland’s Railway’ which will be of benefit to my design portfolio. I was able to attend the Queen Street Launch event and socialise with colleagues there. I was able to gain a greater understanding of the brand guidelines and procedures in place that all communications by Network Rail, and subsequently Scotland’s Railway, are delivered in line with.

Have you faced any challenges during the Kickstart placement?

Working from home was a challenge to get used to. It’s more difficult to get to know colleagues and build relationships online, and it’s harder to stay motivated when at home and not in an office environment where others are working alongside you.

How have you been supported throughout the Kickstart placement?

I received a great amount of support. My line manager would schedule regular check-ins with me and made sure I understood my work and was working in areas I found interesting and fulfilling. I was also offered support by other colleagues reaching out to include me in projects they thought would suit my skill set as a designer. Additionally, a colleague offered to help look at my CV and LinkedIn profile and helped me network further as I am nearing the end of my placement. I felt like I was very well supported by my line manager, the wider communications team, and having regular 1:1 sessions with Adam, my NSAR mentor. This surpassed my expectations and I couldn’t speak highly enough about my time at Network Rail.

Network Rail – Access Planning Assistant

Name: George Gore

What were you doing before Kickstart?

Before I joined Kickstart, I was a recent Chemistry graduate who had just moved to Cardiff, searching for a job that could help me apply and develop my analytical and problem-solving skills.

Why did you decide to apply for a Kickstart placement?

I joined Kickstart because I saw it as an opportunity to gain valuable experience working in a supportive environment.

What did you hope to get out of the Kickstart placement?

I joined the scheme aiming to develop my problem-solving skills and further improve my ability to analyse information. I also hoped that it would also give me the opportunity to gain valuable interpersonal skills in a workplace environment.

What have you got out of the Kickstart placement so far?

I have been given ample opportunity to develop my data analysis and problem-solving skills through my work in access planning and data collection. I also improved my communication skills through weekly team meetings, using IM to communicate with co-workers, and settling disputes with planners via email and telephone conversations. I also had the opportunity to attend Skills Builder sessions to learn how to understand and develop my strengths and weaknesses which I know will be helpful when searching for a new job.

Have you faced any challenges during the Kickstart placement?

The biggest challenge I faced was managing conflict with co-workers. When conflicts arose, I found it stressful to manage and difficult to resolve, especially when the fault was something out of my control, as this was not something I had much experience with before this job. Thankfully, my line manager supported me and told me to send people to him if people were causing problems – this gave me the confidence to stand up for myself and try to resolve conflict without compromising my work. Although stressful at the time, these conflicts offered valuable experience and allowed me to develop conflict resolution and communication skills.

How have you been supported through the Kickstart placement?

I was assigned a mentor – Adam from NSAR, who I regularly met with and was ready to go to bat for me whenever I had any issue with work. My line manager, Dave, was incredibly supportive and always available if I needed any help with work. He also ensured I wasn’t working over my contracted hours and was taking my leave. I was also given Skills Builder training to further support my future job searching.

Network Rail – Communications Assistant for the East Midlands Route

Name: Chloe Alana Smith

What were you doing before Kickstart?

I worked in the hospitality industry; I was based at Derby County Football Club stadium. I worked match days and events, which I had to stop doing once the pandemic hit because the industry shut down. I have a lung condition which made trying to find another job more difficult because I had to shield myself, and I was unable to take on a job that meant leaving the house. So, after spending any savings I did have, I applied for universal credit last September. For a few months, I didn’t find anything that interested me, or I was unsuccessful in interviews. I had to put a freeze on the job searching process in November of last year when I unfortunately my mum passed away. When I re-started actively looking for work again at the start of March. Then my work coach recommended Kickstart to me and helped me find the available posts and those that suited me the most.

Why did you apply for a Kickstart position in Network Rail?

When Kickstart came along, it allowed me the flexibility to be able to work from home when possible so I applied on the off chance that I would be accepted. It also allowed me to explore a new sector that I had never worked in before – rail.  

What did you hope to get out of the Kickstart placement?

I hoped that I would be able to build my confidence back up again after the last 12 months because it was hard for me both personally and professionally. I hoped that over the 6 months I would be able to take the skills I already had a transfer them into this new role. The ability to learn from others within my team and develop new skills. 

What have you got out of the Kickstart placement?

Since starting at Network Rail, I have had the opportunity to work with each member of my team on a project or piece of work. 

Some of the things I have been able to do include; helping organise the awards for the route; working with the Internal Communications Manager and helping in producing the internal newsletter; designing and producing a logo, and branding for the Head of HR. I have also worked with the Public Affairs Manager by producing draft emails and letters that will be sent to local MP’s and councillors. Working

with the Public Affairs Manager also gave me the chance to sit in on planning meetings around new projects that are happening in the community and meet councillors or MP’s in virtual meetings. I was also able to attend an in-person rail event. The Women in Rail event was just for women who worked along the route, so I was able to meet people that worked both on and off the track. I am currently working on organising next year’s awards ceremony. 

Have you faced any challenges during the Kickstart placement?

The onboarding process wasn’t easy, and the induction process was

difficult as well. I believe these problems were down to COVID-19 and the limited resources available at the time as everything was done over the phone or through emails.

How have you been supported through your Kickstart placement?

Everyone that I have met since starting at Network Rail is kind and always so willing to help, even if they don’t have all the answers to give you right away. Leanean Callender is amazing so friendly, down to earth, and so easy to speak to. Adam Wilding from NSAR was always available for me to talk to when needed. My line manager was an amazing support and mentor when I had no clue what I was doing. And I have had the best time, if I didn’t have the support I did, then I would have probably found the job too difficult after a few weeks.


EngineeringUK is a not-for-profit organisation, which works in partnership with the engineering community to inform and inspire young people and grow the number and diversity of tomorrow’s engineers. The Kickstart Scheme was a natural choice for the EngineeringUK team, enabling them to create three exciting new positions for young people in Finance, Business and Engagement Projects.

The Process

NSAR has supported EngineeringUK from the beginning of their Kickstart journey, starting with jobcentre visits to meet with interested young people, and supporting them through the recruitment process. EngineeringUK chose to use NSAR to deliver Youth Engagement and Safeguarding Training to the young people’s line managers, which was well received by both seasoned and newer managers, ensuring everyone was feeling confident and ready for the placements.

The EngineeringUK team invested time planning and preparing for the arrival for the Kickstart placements, creating a selection of tailored projects to maximise the learning and development opportunities for the young people, and using NSAR’s Youth Champion to provide mentoring for each placement. EngineeringUK adopted the e-learning platform ‘GoodHabitz’, supplied via NSAR, bringing in a wide range of employability modules for the young people to work through.

The Placements

Abdul joined EngineeringUK in July as a Business Administration Assistant, followed in September by Yassir as the Engagement Projects Team Assistant, and Milad in the Finance and Business Services Assistant role. NSAR had the pleasure of dropping in on them recently to see how everyone was getting along.

All 3 young people have described their experience at EngineeringUK as simply ‘amazing’, and in a short space of time, have developed their confidence and motivation. Yassir was keen to thank EngineeringUK for the weekly ‘career map’ sessions, which has helped them focus on where they want to be, and the steps needed to get there.

EngineeringUK has made sure there is an element of fun during the placements, including a recent team-building session that involved building planes from Lego – without the normal instructions, well this is engineering!

The Results

Abdul has a growing passion for software development and technology and has been given a fantastic opportunity working with the web development team, with a focus on the Big Bang website. Yassir’s placement has given him the confidence to map out the next steps in his career journey and is currently looking at University options to complete his degree in Mechanical Engineering. Milad enjoys all things finance and is currently completing a course on finance software as will be starting his AAT (finance) Level 3 course in December.

The amazing team at EngineeringUK (Summer Ochir, Partnership Coordinator, and Lauren Crawford, Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion) who have managed the Kickstart project from the beginning and are always on-hand for the Kickstarters. Lauren stated that the ‘Kickstart initiative has been great for us and the young people. We have learned a lot and will be reviewing these learnings early next year to see how we can incorporate these into opportunities for young people in the future.’

Neil Robertson, CEO, NSAR said ‘It has been fantastic working closely with EngineeringUK on this amazing initiative. NSAR is proud to be supporting EngineeringUK and the young people, and I look forward to hearing from Yassir, Abdul and Milad as they move forward in their careers.

Dr Hilary Leevers, CEO, EngineeringUK said ‘We were really keen to bring more young workers into the organisation to give them opportunities and also help us gain from their perspectives, especially given our work with children and young adults. The Kickstart scheme, with NSAR’s help, provided us with a great opportunity to directly support three young people through the pandemic and everyone at EngineeringUK has been pleased to be involved. We’re looking forward to seeing what happens next for Abdul, Yassir and Milad and the success of their placements has encouraged us to continue to support young people in a similar way in the future.’

NSAR will be continuing our support with EngineeringUK, and we look forward to being part of the project review and reflection in 2022.

To see how the NSAR can help you with your Kickstart activities, email us at and a member of our team will be in touch.

Contact us

Contact Us and state ‘Kickstart’ in the message, to get your enquiry through to the Kickstart team.

Alternatively, email or call 020 3021 0575.

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