Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive, ERSA

June is most definitely the month to celebrate in ERSA-land. Not only do we have national Employability Day looming on 29 June, where employment support organisations the length and breadth of the UK fling open their doors to welcome the great, the good and the merely interested, but we also have the sector’s national awards.

Now awards ceremonies, in my view, can sometimes be a little bit stodgy - a bit worthy, if you know what I mean. We’re not in favour of that at ERSA. Instead, we decided when we started the awards six years ago to throw a party, squarely aimed at shining a spotlight on the very best in class, be that the large or small employer the year, the best innovations of the year or the best service providers. We think we’ve succeeded, so I thought I’d use this column to celebrate a few of them.

First up is Reform Radio, this year’s winner of the Innovation Award. Launched in 2013, Reform has grown a team of DJs, producers and artists who deliver live and on demand digital content around the clock and who provide opportunities for young people to develop confidence and skills. As part of this it works with looked after children and those leaving care, kids in pupil referral units and in touch with probation. What’s not to like in that?

Second up is Genius Within, which is passionate about working with those with hidden disability, including ADHD, autism, dyslexia, Tourette’s Syndrome, mental health issues and conditions such as MS. Genius Within achieves a stunning 50% success rate with its clients, with 90% staying in their role for at least a year and nearly a quarter promoted within that timescale.

Next is Sova, a Birmingham based charity, nominated by the local Youth Offending Team and winner of this year’s Youth Employment Award. Sova has placed employment engagement advisers in youth offending teams and police stations across the city so that young people coming into their orbit can no longer sit under the radar but can be picked up and reconnected to education, training and employment provision.

Also recognised are the jobseekers themselves. This year’s winner is truly inspirational, although all those shortlisted brought tears to many eyes. Tom Sewell wanted to work, but with Down’s Syndrome some would assume his options were limited. However, after volunteering for the Down Syndrome Association’s WorkFit programme, he secured a six week work trial at the National Laboratory Service in Devon.

His colleagues have since admitted how nervous they were about him joining the team. However, Tom’s impact was stunning and he was offered a paid permanent position as a laboratory assistant, where he has thrived.

You might read these and think such examples are great, but maybe not world changing. However, in big enough numbers they do change the world. But the lesson from our winners is that change doesn’t happen by itself. Which takes us onto this week’s national story – the NAO report into Universal Credit.

We all know that the government has put huge store on UC being a game changer, aligning incentives in such a way that jobseekers choose to get into work without needing much or any employment support. However, the NAO’s report is revealing.

First, the DWP now believes UC will get to an additional 200,000 people into work, 100,000 less than its original claim. Still impressive you might believe. However, sadly it’s not clear that UC will deliver even that.

NAO states that the DWP is unable to isolate the impacts of UC from other factors, whilst an initial analysis using the Labour Force Survey across areas with and without UC appears to show no impact of UC on either employment or earnings.

Maybe more startling for those of us in the employment support world are the figures re caseload sizes. As of March, work coaches had an average caseload of 85. However, by 2024/5 this is anticipated to go up a massive 373.

So, all in all, it looks like the employment support sector isn’t going to be out of business anytime soon. We need great case studies, we need transformational change. UC isn’t going to achieve that, but we just might.

Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive, ERSA

Copyright © 2018 FE News

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Educating yourself in Prison: an inside job

Educating yourself in Prison: an inside job

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter yesterday

RT @NCFE: ‘For as long as humans have worked, and whatever industry they may have worked in, success has always been predicated on having t…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page