Firm’s mission to get at risk young people back into employment

A Warrington firm is on a mission to change the future of dozens of young adults who are at risk of long-term unemployment.

United Utilities, based at Lingley Mere Business Park, has welcomed 36 young people to the firm as part of the Government funded Kickstart Programme, set up to support people aged between 16 – 24 who are claiming Universal Credit or are at risk of long-term unemployment.

And after just six months, the scheme has been hailed a success, with 10 young people already awarded long-term roles and room for more.

Katie Moffatt, Early Careers Manager at United Utilities, said: “Of the 36 kickstarters who have joined since April, nine are now with us on 12-month contracts and one has a permanent position. It’s a fantastic result and we have high hopes for future Kickstarters joining us at United Utilities.”

As part of the six-month placement with the firm, the Kickstarters are given a role at the company with a dedicated placement manager and Kickstart Skills Coach. In addition to mandatory training, they are given IT literacy support, and support with CV writing and interview preparations, ensuring they are no longer overlooked for future job roles due to lack of experience.

Katie added that the programme remains open to new recruits until March 2022. As part of the Kickstart job placement, each participant is provided with all the relevant skills, experiences, training and support required to fulfil the role and to seek employment post placement. We equip each young person with the basic skills and training they need to flourish in the working environment, and we also provide employability skills training in parallel with their placement.

She said: “United Utilities is one of the largest employers in Warrington so it’s important for us to do what we can to help young people take that first step into full time employment. You do not need experience or a certain set of skills, we are open to anyone with an eagerness to get on the career ladder and who is willing to put in some hard work.

“Not all kickstart recruits will be taken on as permanent staff, but they will complete their six months under our guidance and support to ensure they are given the best chance possible of finding long-term employment.”

Gemma Stott, 21, from Winwick, was given a permanent position in United Utilities contact centre after just three months on the Kickstart programme.

She said: “I studied for a Health and Social Care NVQ at college, but when it came to starting my career there was something holding me back from doing it full time.

“I saw the advert was aimed at people like me so asked for more information. Next thing I had an interview online and was heading in for my first shift.”

She added: “The great thing about Kickstarters is that it opens up new opportunities you might not know existed. I was lucky to be taken on by United Utilities but even if I hadn’t, I would have still had this fantastic experience of knowing that there is something out there that I will enjoy and be good at. I’d definitely recommend it!”

William Moore, 24, lost his job at a welfare hotline during the pandemic. Now he has secured a job in United Utilities’ scheduling and operations team with a bright career ahead of him.

William, who is from Great Sankey and graduated from Liverpool Hope University in 2019, said: “The scheme was a chance for me to get my career back on track. It’s also helped me gain life skills as I’ve been given access to e-books and online courses such as public speaking and conflict management which has helped me improve as an individual.”

United Utilities is currently recruiting for more applicants for its Kickstart scheme which is open to Universal Credit claimants aged 16 to 24.

To read more about Gemma and William, or to see a video about our Kickstart programme, go to