Nick Christou is 23 years old and lives in Nottingham. He left college in 2016 with a BTEC Level 3 in Games Design. He wanted to be a 3D modeller but all the jobs are in London and he felt held back by a lack of guidance about getting into the creative industries.
Nick joined the Kickstart programme after being referred from his work coach at a Job Centre Plus in Nottingham at the end of December 2020. He started working with Ethos VO’s Young Leaders https://www.ethosvo.org/project/young-leaders-kickstart/ opportunity for Kickstarters anywhere in the UK who want to get involved in digital knowledge work.
Nick’s placement started in March 2021 and he works from home, supporting a number of social value projects. It lasts for six months until the end of September 2021.
Nick explains the circumstances which led up to his application to Kickstart:
“I was disappointed not to find work in the field of 3D animation which turned out really competitive because of the oversaturation of the market, and there were no opportunities around where I live. So I started to focus on photography and making progress on photographing live bands around Nottingham. Sadly, the pandemic put an end to that, and I found myself on Universal Credit. I applied for many jobs but my lack of experience prevented me from even getting an interview. I was starting to lose confidence, so when my JobCentre Plus coach referred me to Ethos VO’s Kickstart scheme, one day before it closed – I really jumped at the chance!”
“I was attracted to the Young Leaders Kickstart programme because I think inexperienced young people need a chance to prove themselves and they can learn more quickly than given credit for. I have made the most of the opportunity to explore my interest in graphic design and all things artistic to learn new things and challenge my skill set. I have been motivated by the freedom given to me to manage my own time and use my self-taught skills in photography while learning about design and marketing. I have been encouraged to think outside the box and use my creativity to create something I’m proud of. Others in Ethos have produced exceptional work that has inspired me to better my own knowledge and work. My prospects are really shaping up as my portfolio grows.”
“I’ve learned to collaborate better – the community of young people I worked with has really helped me push my skills to a new level. The wellbeing mentor system has helped me deal with any stress and I think every workplace should have this. My employability level has gone up and I have built my network online so there is social proof about what I have done. I am a lot clearer about what I want to do: I think graphic design and branding is an area I want to develop. Having a chance to dip my toe into things to find out what I like and dislike has helped me push forward onto a career path I love. I’ve realised I don’t want to be in a big studio, but rather a small studio in which I could be a generalist – and Ethos has given me the platform to do that.”
“In terms of general employability, Ethos has given me experience within a lot of industries that I can study and understand: everything from event management, to town centre data and nature restoration.”
Ethos VO uses a Value Exchange Dynamic system to ensure everyone in the company is recognised for their talents, skills, attitudes and contributions to the work community. The product owner for Sardines digital engagement, Elisa Tuijnder, recently wrote this on Nick’s Value Exchange Discussion document:
“Nick has had an incredibly productive month, with the production of Noggin video, the beautiful logo for Ethos Wilder and some branding guidelines and layouts for Sardines. But more importantly Nick is really coming into his own, he is understanding better what he enjoys doing and gains confidence with everything he does. It’s great to see you contribute to many Ethos projects, and fine-tuning your skillset. I look forward to working together on multiple projects as well as developing your business case. Sky’s the limit!”
Young Leaders is an Ethos Work venture launched in response to the Covid emergency in 2020. The scheme offers training, development and workplace opportunities to anyone living anywhere in the UK, aged 16 – 24 and on Universal Credit. This is a youth-led solution operated by a team of partners and mentors from within the Ethos group, and supported by the UK government’s Kickstart Scheme which is funded by the Department of Work and Pensions.
This case study was developed in collaboration with the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) to celebrate World Youth Skills Day 2021 and is published on the ERSA website. https://ersa.org.uk/media/case-studies/kickstart-case-study-nick-christou-ethos-vo