Almost a year ago I proudly announced the launch of the first development in creating professional standards for those working with unemployed people, the Employment Related Services qualifications framework. Now I can announce the second part of that journey, the launch of the Institute of Employability Professionals, the opening of our website www.iemployability.org and the registration of our first members.
Our progress has been remarkable and this has been due to the hard work and dedicated support of our volunteer team, the work of the practitioner’s standards group, our sector employers, the Workpays project team, the professional support of EDI and the innovation grant from UKCES.
The year has seen growing numbers registering for the qualifications and our first achievers if Certificates and Diplomas. During the year we began work on the Higher Apprenticeship (Level 4) which is being reviewed by NAs and the first intake for the programme, entitled ‘Future Leaders’ made.
The Institute, IEP, is designed as an individual membership body with entry at various levels to suit levels of experience and qualification, affiliate, associate, members and fellow. Members may come from any sector where their role involves working with unemployed people and their communities.
Over time members will elect officers to the Board and its subcommittees. An Institute governance structure has been developed which includes the Board, a Standards and Qualifications Committee, a Membership and Nominations Committee and a Standards and Compliance Committee to oversee adherence to the Code of Conduct.
We have been highly supported by sector employers. Some of these have elected to become Founder Patrons to demonstrate their ongoing commitment to professional standards for their staff and are actively working with IEP to bring their staff teams into membership. We are proud to list their names on the website. We have also worked closely with the Careers Professional Alliance to ensure that our standards and theirs for careers teachers are closely aligned and create transferable ladders of career progression.
What has been interesting is the enthusiasm from front line staff, those working with customers in this hostile economic situation and following upheaval in contracts and jobs. As we talk directly to them they see the Institute as raising perception of the important work they do, instilling pride and improving performance. They are keen to offer mentoring to new recruits and are seeking mentoring opportunities through the Institute to develop their career.
We will be present and leading seminars at both AELP and Welfare to Work conferences in the next month where we can answer directly any questions which may arise. We will also be presenting awards and certificates to our first alumni and also to Founding Patrons. Declan Swan, our Director will be there having come with a great background in education business partnerships.
A journey always starts with a first step. I don’t know if those of us who answered Fran Parry from Inclusion’s invitation to attend a meeting of any interested parties in developing standards and qualifications in the employability sector in January 2010 that we would have come so far, so fast. It was to prove to be that first step on the road.
Our journey has been marked by milestones and memorable moments; the publication of the research report in October 2010, the formation of the PoWER group, the funding of the PoWER project, the production of the ERS framework under Lisa Martin’s chairmanship, Chris Grayling and Alan Cave wearing our bright orange ‘We’ve got the PoWER badges, the UKCES grant, the registering of the institute, Joanne Carter our first Diploma achiever, the appointment of Declan Swan as our Director, the launch of the website and the first members joining.
This is, as someone much more famous said is, the end of the beginning in what is still a long journey. But we have taken those first steps, our feet are firmly placed on the road ahead but our eyes are still on the hills.
Come and join us to see where the journey will take us.
Janette Faherty OBE is chair of the Institute of Employability Professionals