The Kickstart Scheme was a government funded scheme that provided six months of paid work placement for young people at the highest risk of long-term unemployment. Initially the scheme was only open to large organisation unless engaging through a “Gateway Organisation”. To help our small Certification Bodies access this scheme, IASME became a Gateway Organisation and offered a package of included cyber security training to support the young people who might get a placement working in cyber security. By the end of the funded scheme, IASME had placed 45 young people across 15 companies. A high percentage of these young people were offered a permanent job in that organisation after the placement had finished.
As a Kickstart Gateway, IASME delivered an extensive training package to all young people on the scheme which included an introduction to cyber security, seven modules covering cyber security and information assurance, and a Cyber Essentials Assessor course.
One of the organisations that took on a young person through the scheme was Adapt-IT. Adapt-IT are a specialist IT and gaming solution provider for people with disabilities. It distributes products such as assistive software, supplies assistive training, online security help and hardware.
Jess Peacey joined the small Adapt-IT team that consisted only of Simon and Jane O’Gorman, as part of the Kickstart Scheme. Jess applied during the pandemic and was at the time unaware about the way her life might change. We were able to find out more about Jess’ journey.
How did you first hear about the Kickstart Scheme and what led you to it?
During the pandemic, I went on Universal Credit to help myself and my mum pay the bills. My adviser told me that they had signed my name up for the Kickstart Scheme. From there, I was advised on the series of interviews I would go through as part of the application. It seemed like a great programme to help young people to find work.
The Scheme sounded like it would bring together my interest in computers and my passion for helping people. These are both such a large part of my life.
How did you come to be accepted on to the Kickstart Scheme by Adapt-IT?
When I went along to the initial interviews for the Kickstart Scheme, I didn’t know much about the scheme itself, the partner organisations or even the nature of the work. When I found out about Adapt-IT, I was excited. The prospect of working at a company that is focused on technology was a big plus
As I found out more about IASME, and the Cyber Essentials scheme, I was able to get a bigger picture of the way cyber security was paired with genuinely helping people and organisations. From there, I signed up for all of the modules provided by IASME with a test at the end. Now my certificate is hanging on the wall next to me!
What were some of the skills you were introduced to or excited to learn while on the Kickstart Scheme at Adapt-IT?
Through the Cyber Essentials Implementation workshop, I was able to go through the security policy for Adapt-IT. I was learning a lot about keeping safe, how many places you need to look out for vulnerabilities.
I was also able to adapt the Cyber Essentials policy to the data that Adapt-IT were capturing. I took the Standard Track policy and amended it for Adapt-IT. I went through each part of the policy and asked: is this relevant? If not, I had to think about how to change it to be relevant to Adapt-IT. We keep an admin register for people who have admin rights on the website. I was able to maintain the security of this list, implementing security for contractors.
How else have you applied your knowledge to your role at Adapt-IT?
Our day centre clients have Avast CloudCare on their computers. Every Tuesday I need to dial in and make sure the computers and Avast are updated, as well as making sure any queries are answered and generally making sure people’s computers are safe.
What are you looking forward to working on in your role at Adapt-IT?
I’m really interested in the creative marketing side and I’ve been able to create brand awareness at Adapt-IT. We’ve got 200 Twitter followers, and this is increasing steadily.
How do you reflect on your Kickstart Scheme journey?
I don’t know where I would have been without the Kickstart Scheme. Coming out of the pandemic and not having anything else to do, it would have been very difficult to find a job. The Kickstart Scheme gave me that chance, and now I have a job that I genuinely enjoy.
It’s also nice to be able to share help and knowledge – such as with my family, I’m the first person they ask when they need help. I was in the barber’s the other day, and someone was trying to remember their password. I was able to recommend a few password managers. I’m always on call!
The Kickstart Scheme has now closed but IASME is interested in finding out about other schemes that will help bring young people into the cyber security workplace.