A WICKHAM Market based manufacturing firm is giving a professional ‘kickstart’ to a young school leaver as part of a government workplace scheme.

Roland Plastics, which employs 30 staff and has remained operational throughout the pandemic, has this week confirmed the first of two six-month placements, which it will be providing through the national Kickstart initiative.

The scheme was announced by the Department of Work & Pensions last year and seeks to offer active employment to those aged 16-24 who are out of work and are keen to gain skills, experience and a wage.

First to join Roland Plastics under the process is 19 year old Lauren, who will become a machine operator and assembler for the firm.

Her placement has been made possible by Roland Plastics working closely with Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, which has been processing company applications and requirements across the county.

Barrie Hayter, Head of Sales & Marketing said “We are really pleased to welcome Lauren to Roland Plastics and hope her time with us will be a great step in their career journey.

“The team at Suffolk Chamber has been extremely helpful and stepped up very quickly when the government announced the scheme to support smaller businesses.”

Previously a pupil at Thomas Mills High School, Lauren said: “I am looking forward to learning new skills.”

Ben Emerson, Director at Roland Plastics, is pleased with the role the firm is able to play in supporting someone like Lauren.

He said “We have been able to employ a local applicant who does not drive and was struggling to find work in our rural area. They will be earning a wage and receiving training to support them find future roles.”

Member of Parliament for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, Dr Dan Poulter said “I’m delighted to learn that Lauren has secured a role with local firm, Roland Plastics, through the Government’s Kickstart scheme and supported by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.”

“It is vital to ensure that our young people have the training and life skills to support them in securing their future role and I’m delighted that Roland Plastics have already confirmed two placements through the scheme.”

Paul Simon, head of policy & communications at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce said ”Being part of the Suffolk Gateway Partnership, we’ve really appreciated the opportunity to work with Roland Plastics, a great Suffolk success story, in helping them apply for a Kickstart placement and so ensure that a local young person is able to benefit from six months of quality work experience. To date, we have helped secure nearly 350 such positions – with many more still to come!”

Roland’s second placement will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

As well as carrying out a daily workplace role, each participant receives a peer buddy, alongside training and coaching in areas like interview skills and job hunting.

For decades, Roland Plastics has been supplying bespoke injection moulded plastics to small and large organisations. The company started life as Girdlestone Pumps in the 1960’s.