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Giving new keepers a kick-start

Our zoos – Paignton and Newquay – are providing 13 young people with an amazing opportunity to kick-start their careers in zookeeping.

As part of the Government’s Kickstart Scheme, Paignton Zoo has taken on nine assistants and Newquay Zoo has taken on four, giving them a full introduction into the world of animal management.

The Kickstarters are working across a range of teams, specialising in either care of mammals, birds, botanics or lower vertebrates and invertebrates (such as reptiles and insects). Depending on their chosen area, the young people are learning everything from food prep and cleaning to animal observations and record keeping. They also have access to a range of training including employability skills, health and safety and first aid.

The scheme has been so successful that both zoos are now looking to take on several further Kickstarters this year. We will be recruiting seven more Kickstarters at Paignton Zoo and a further two Kickstarters at Newquay.

The Kickstart Scheme launched in autumn 2020 to provide the funding to create new job placements for people aged between 16 and 24 who are in receipt of Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment.

The funding covers 100% of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week for a total of six months, along with training and support to get a job in the future.

Hannah Barker, People Services Manager, said: “The scheme is a great opportunity to give individuals the chance to gain experience and skills with our keepers and gardeners. This is an industry that can be difficult to get into and where any work experience is invaluable.”

Lucinda Waite, Botanics Apprentice, said: “The Kickstart Scheme has been a life changing experience for me. Prior to starting this position I found social situations difficult, struggled with anxiety, lacked confidence and even getting out of bed was a challenge. Now I wake up every morning excited to start the day.”

If you, or anyone you know, is interested in the opportunity and are eligible, then speak to your work coach.