The winners of the 2018 ERSA Employability Awards, sponsored by Clarion Futures, were announced last night at a special evening ceremony in London attended by the Minister for Employment, Alok Sharma MP, and hosted by ITV’s Lucrezia Millarini.

The ERSA Employability Awards celebrate best practice across the employment support sector and seek to demonstrate the day-to-day hard work and dedication of those working to improve the lives of jobseekers, communities and the wider workforce. 

ERSA received nearly 150 entries across ten categories demonstrating the breadth of work in the sector. The award entries were judged by Ashwin Kumar, Chief Economist at Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Tabitha Jay, Director of the Work and Health Unit, Gill Holmes, Senior DWP official and last year's winner of the Adviser of the Year award, Adrian Bailey of Prisoners Abroad. 

ERSA’s Chief Executive, Kirsty McHugh, says:

‘This year’s award winners are extraordinary. Despite low unemployment, we know that some individuals and communities still struggle to find work.  We’re therefore delighted to celebrate the achievements of individuals and organisations across the sector, from the frontline advisers boosting confidence and skills to help people into work, the jobseekers overcoming huge challenges to enter employment and the employers ready to give people that much needed chance.  Well done everybody.’

Minister for Employment, Alok Sharma MP, says:

‘I congratulate all the winners of this year’s ERSA Employability Awards for their hard work and dedication towards helping people of all abilities and backgrounds into work. It’s absolutely right that we celebrate these successes and the partnerships they represent which, against the backdrop of record employment levels we’re seeing across the country, is even more fantastic news.’

ERSA is delighted to announce the following winners:

Youth Employment Awards sponsored by entitledto: Recognising an employment support provider who has demonstrated exceptional commitment in delivering employment services for young adults.

Winner: Sova (nominated by Birmingham Youth Offending Service)

Sova’s mission is to support people to develop the skills and confidence to take control of their lives and develop their full potential.  Sova Youth Promise Plus (Birmingham and Solihull) helps 16 to 24-year old NEETs at risk of offending by supporting them to address issues and helping them find sustainable education training and employment opportunities. Sova has embedded employment engagement workers in the youth offending teams and in police stations across Birmingham to ensure effective relationships with criminal justice staff and quick referrals to support for those who need it most.  

Disability and Health Employment Award sponsored by ICONI: Recognising an employment support provider who has demonstrated exceptional commitment in supporting jobseekers with disabilities and health conditions to achieve sustained employment.

Winner: Genius Within CIC

Genius Within CIC is passionate about developing talent and achieving success with hidden disability, including ADHD, autism, dyslexia, Tourette’s Syndrome, mental health and conditions such as MS. The organisation seeks to transform services for clients through innovative design, research, and campaigning alongside direct client work which sees 50% of all individuals supported finding sustainable employment based on their unique strengths.  Through robust evaluation and benchmarking, 90% of Genius Within successful jobseekers are still with the same employer after one year, with 24% promoted within this timescale. The organisation supports over 700 unemployed individuals and 2,000 employed (but at risk) clients per annum.

Partner of the Year Award sponsored by Shaw Trust: Recognising excellence as a delivery partner in the field of employment support.

Winner: Blackpool Council – Positive Steps into Work Service (Nominated by G4S)

Blackpool Council joined the G4S European Social Fund Supply Chain in January 2017 and has delivered outstanding performance. The council achieved this by delivering a fully integrated service model, which identifies customers who would benefit from the service to enable them to continue on their individual journey and access wide range of support interventions to build and enhance skills, increase confidence and motivation and improve overall well-being.  

Innovation Award sponsored by Forward Trust: Recognising a provider who has pioneered innovative approaches and solutions within the employment support market.

Winner: Reform Radio

Reform Radio is an online radio station and social enterprise that supports young adults into employment. Launched in 2013, Reform has grown a team of local, national and international DJs, writers, producers and artists who deliver live as well as on demand digital content around the clock. This provides engaging material with which to structure creative workshops and digital programmes for young people to develop transferrable skills.   Reform works with The Prince's Trust, Big Lottery’s Talent Match, the BBC, European Social Funded projects and Salford City College.  Reform also works with young people at risk of being unemployed.

Large Employer of the Year Award sponsored by Reed in Partnership: Recognising a large employer who has demonstrated exceptional commitment in creating opportunities for disadvantaged and long term unemployed jobseekers.

Winner: Virgin Trains

Virgin Trains takes a multifaceted and multiagency approach to driving employability amongst disadvantaged groups. Led by its team at the Talent Academy, it has pioneered schemes to get ex-offenders into employment by working with organisations such as NOVUS and New Leaf, as well as with prison resettlement staff. It works with The Prince’s Trust to offer work experience and training, as well as job opportunities for young talent. Approximately 10% of frontline staff turnover is filled through these initiatives, with entry-level apprenticeships accounting for a further 50%. And while ‘Doing the Right Thing’ might be a brand value, for the company it makes good business sense. Data shows that productivity and engagement is higher amongst these employees.

Small or Medium Employer of the Year Award sponsored by Novus: Recognising a small or medium employer who has demonstrated exceptional commitment in creating opportunities for disadvantaged and long term unemployed jobseekers.

Winner: Roses Homecare (nominated by Kennedy Scott)

Roses Homecare is a small private healthcare provider. Over 40% of its employees were previously long-term unemployed and approximately 10% have disabilities or health issues, including Asperger’s, autism, physical health issues and sickle cell disease. Rose’s has worked with Kennedy Scott for four years and has employed a number of clients, all of them sustaining in employment for over six months. Rose’s support clients through work trials and placements, informal interviews and customising training and the role for the employee.  Roses strongly believes in developing employees, with its administrator, Sam – who has autism and ADHD – recently being promoted to take on Personal Assistant activities.

Team of the Year Award sponsored by IEP and Jobskilla: Recognising a team of frontline staff which has demonstrated outstanding commitment in meeting and exceeding the delivery aims of an employment provider.

Winner: Torus – Employment Team

The Torus Employment team of eight has grown to 14 due to the success and demand for support generated through their skill and dedication. Delivering voluntary schemes, the team has helped 500 tenants into work in 2016-2017, built a strong reputation with communities, delivery partners and employers and developed a social media presence reaching 15,000 people. The team has also created bespoke training programmes for 60 tenants in transport industries. This has all been achieved by the dedication of the team, the willingness to work together and a focus of always putting the individual at the heart of everything they do.   

Adviser of the Year Award sponsored by Alderwood: Recognising an employment adviser who has demonstrated exceptional commitment in a frontline role.

Winner: Tanya Weston (nominated by Genius Within)

Tanya Weston is a frontline caseworker on Genius Within’s offender project in the South West, where she goes above and beyond what most would deem possible with clients that are normally behind bars when she starts working with them. Through her unique skills she is able to achieve a 50% job outcome rate, which is 125% above what she is targeted to achieve. In addition to her day-to-day casework, she is also a major source of support for colleagues and is completing her PhD looking at neurodiversity in custody. Tanya is also a carer to a disabled daughter and has Asperger’s herself – something she treats with humour and uses to motivate others who say that they can’t do something.

Significant Achievement Award sponsored by Working Links: Recognising a jobseeker who has demonstrated exceptional commitment to overcoming barriers to enter and maintain work.

Winner: Tom Sewell (nominated Down’s Syndrome Association)

Tom’s strong desire to gain a paid, permanent job motivated him to register with the Down Syndrome Association’s WorkFit supported employment programme in 2015. Following his meeting with WorkFit he showed strong dedication to gaining a position, securing a six-week work trial at the National Laboratory Service in Devon in 2016. His colleagues at the laboratory had no previous experience of working with someone with Down’s Syndrome, with many admitting to significant apprehension.  Tom was able to make a good impression and was offered a paid, permanent position as a laboratory assistant, with a range of duties including stacking and emptying samples.

Lifetime Achievement Award sponsored by Pluss: Recognising an exceptional individual who has dedicated a significant part of their career to the employment related services sector and has made a notable impact on the wider sector

Winner: Bob Marsh, Head of Specialist Employment Service, Clarion UK

Profoundly Deaf since birth, Bob started his career as a cabinet maker, but early onset arthritis put a stop to his dexterity and curtailed his practical skills. He soon found himself unemployed for the first time in his life. Through personal experience, he realised how hard it was for a Deaf person to find work. Determined to make changes and ensure that his fellow-Deaf peers had equal access to all mainstream employability services, Bob commenced a career as an employment advisor for Deaf people. Bob’s name has become synonymous within the employability sector, having helped over 400 Deaf and Hard of Hearing people into sustainable employment. 

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