From education to employment

Employability on Show

Henry Foulkes and Jack Farnhill-Bain

Employability Day is an annual ‘open door’ to the often-unknown work of the employability sector. The sector on show in a day – and a springboard for what’s next to come – it was welcomed by ERSA and its members across the UK on 30 June and featured many notable highlights.

Employability Day is coordinated by the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) every year to celebrate the hard work of its members and their participants across the UK. This year’s theme, Working for Better Work, reflects the sector’s mission to provide effective support to the nation’s jobseekers and low earners.

Providers are encouraged to host events showcasing the innovative and inclusive employment support they provide daily. Local and national stakeholders are invited to learn more about the sector’s work and how it benefits local communities – their constituents. Employers are able to share vacancies and meet interested applicants. While programme participants are given the opportunity to unlock training and job opportunities, engage in workshops and access information and support. In short, it’s a shopwindow of everything the sector does day in, day out, to create a dynamic, good-value and fair labour market.

The sector, as ever, seized the day:

  • 14 MPs from both the cabinet and shadow cabinet visited ERSA members.
  • Mayors, Councillors, Members of the Scottish Parliament, Members of Senedd and commissioners were also actively engaged.
  • #WorkingForBetterWork received 660 mentions across social media, with a potential reach of 1.3 million.
  • #EmpDay23 received 504 mentions, with a potential reach of 687,000.

For 2023, with a general election on the horizon and uncertainty of funding streams stubbornly remaining across the sector, key policymakers and commissioners were welcome guests:

  • Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, visited Twin Employment in his constituency for an event which connected more than 100 participants with local employers.
  • Sir Stephen Timms, Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, visited ERSA member East London Business Alliance in his constituency – saying on Twitter, “Thank you for briefing me on all of your vitally important work to support young people into employment”.
  • Wendy Chamberlain, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Work and Pensions, visited FedCap in Fife to meet successful participants. She said: “I was delighted to celebrate Employability Day with Fedcap. They provide a vital service to people across Fife, including to my constituents in North East Fife.”

Partners, employers, and participants benefited too as ERSA members held open days, job fairs, site visits and online information sessions. Successful Mums Careers Academy held a free online webinar, helping mothers hone their transferable parenting skills to get back to work; The Royal Borough of Greenwich held a well-attended trade apprenticeships information session; while Seetec Pluss opened their offices across the country to bring together participants, local employers, training providers and careers advisors.

Sector leaders published blogs and news articles, highlighting the great work the sector is doing, looking ahead to what’s next.

Julie Graham CEO of Employment Services at Ingeus UK explored the sector’s activities and why they resonate with her, saying

“Supporting a person’s journey into work is simply the most rewarding experience I can describe. Employability Day helps us share that.”

ERSA’s CEO, Elizabeth Taylor, told FE News,

“The UK labour market is transforming in front of us, as are the social aspects that shape it. Poor mental health, economic inactivity, the flight of older people from the labour market, NEET numbers rising, labour shortages, flexing and emerging sectors. Now is the time for fresh thinking.”

For ERSA, Employability Day served as a demonstration of the nationwide communities of best practice that it represents and maintains. Its members came out in force to proudly display their work and impact.

It is important to now use this momentum and continue making the case for best use of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, an extension and expansion of the Restart Scheme, and securing the longevity of the sector, ensuring continuity of support for people regardless of age, skillset or geography.

By Henry Foulkes, Policy and Public Affairs Lead at the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), and Jack Farnhill-Bain, Youth Employment Labour Market and Policy Research Officer at ERSA

To read more about how ERSA and its members are ‘Working for Better Work’, visit here.

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