Since the government began its Kickstart Scheme back in September 2020 community pharmacies have been stepping up to fill as many work placements as they can.
The backdrop before the launch of Kickstart was grim – the nation faced one of the worst unemployment rates in history and many sectors faced a workforce shortage due to staff having to self-isolate as a result of Covid-19. While the Chancellor’s furlough scheme was trying to keep workers afloat, the Kickstart Scheme became a means to enable young people, at risk of long term unemployment, get on the job ladder.
Guided by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) and recruitment agency Reed, hundreds of young Kickstarters are working in community pharmacies across the country with many more waiting to start.
Victoria Duricic-Moutrey is just one of those. The 23-year-old, who is currently doing a placement at Clarke Pharmacy in South-West London, finished a degree in Biomedical Science in Chester last year before moving to the capital.
"I’ve been trying to apply for jobs for five months and it was impossible.”
“I was applying for lab assistant jobs because that’s what I wanted to do but for some reason it's so difficult to even land an interview.”
Victoria applied for the kickstart scheme via her university.
“They asked if there was anything else I’d be interested in doing for the mean time because I’ve been getting nowhere with applying for lab assistant jobs,” she explains.
“So I said anything science based would be good. That’s when I found this pharmacy Kickstart Scheme via the NPA and Reed and I just went for it.”
Victoria started working in the pharmacy since the beginning of March and has been busy learning about medicines, restocking the shop floor and selling over the counter products. She also just completed the NPA’s Medicine counter assistant course.
“I’m really enjoying it,” she says.
“Everyone’s really nice here and I’m learning a lot more than I did in university because it’s linked to my degree in a way but with a focus on medicines.
“I’m also happy to be helping the pharmacy out in some way during the pandemic too.”
Kamini Sharma, Pharmacist and Director at Clarke Pharmacy said she applied to have a Kickstarter to give a young person an opportunity.
“There are so many young people who can't get any employment simply because they have no training and experience, so I thought this is a great opportunity for me to give.”
She says she feels sorry for young people like Victoria who had “worked hard, gone university to get a degree and still (could) not find a job.”
“Even though we didn't need anyone in the pharmacy, I still thought, ‘I’m sure I can find something for her to help out with’.”
Kamini added: “We have a very good team here and they're very supportive, so I do have the time to spend with somebody new, to teach them and guide them.”
She says she found out about the scheme after getting emails from the NPA.
“I thought if the NPA are behind this scheme too that’s great and that's when I applied for it.
Victoria did the Medicines counter assistant course which the NPA paid for. She did the course quite fast and I was really happy I took her on because I had the support of the NPA which was really beneficial.”
When Victoria first started Kamini gave her a tour of the pharmacy floor and showed her all the items in her stockroom. She also got her pre reg pharmacist to help Victoria familiarise herself with all the different types of over the counter medicines.
“We trained her on the till to serve customers and how to handle patients who come to pay on the counter. She also learnt about medicines such as eye drops, hay fever treatments and decongestions medicines. As she was doing the Medicine counter assistant course she was learning new things too.”
Victoria recently enrolled onto the NPA’s Dispensary assistant course and hopes it will help her get some job security during the pandemic.
“I’ve started doing a dispensary assistant course because if it happens that lab jobs are really difficult to get into, I can always apply for dispensary jobs in the future. At least I’ve got work as I don't really fancy being on universal credit.”