The winners of the inaugural ERSA Employability Awards, sponsored by Interserve Working Futures, were announced last night at a ceremony in central London, attended by Employment Minister Mark Hoban and with a drinks reception sponsored by Specialist Recruitment Partners.

The awards aim to celebrate and champion the people and organisations working to tackle joblessness in the UK. The 169 entries were whittled down to seven outstanding winners by the judges, Sarah Neville from the Financial Times, Matthew Oakley from Policy Exchange, and Julia Sweeney from the Department for Work & Pensions.

Speaking of the awards, ERSA’s Chief Executive Kirsty McHugh, said:

“We started the ERSA Employability Awards to highlight the exceptional work that is taking place every day in the welfare to work industry. Front line advisers, working in partnership with employers and others help to transform the lives of the long term unemployed.” 

There are huge numbers of fantastic success stories out there and I’m delighted that we’re able to highlight some of the best of them.”

Minister for Employment Mark Hoban said:

“I am delighted to celebrate the very real successes that have been achieved by all those who have helped deliver welfare to work services. I recognise that these have made a profound difference to many people’s lives in helping them to find and stay in work.”

The full list of winners is as follows:

The Innovation Award (sponsored by Alderwood)
Winner: Ingeus’ Sports and Social Inclusion Programme:
Ingeus’ Sports and Social Inclusion Programme uses sport, particularly football and boxing, to raise people’s self-esteem and motivation, whilst at the same time delivering tailored employability support, which helps clients develop the skills they need, including teamwork, discipline, leadership and motivation.

Supply Chain Partner of the Year Award (sponsored by ICONI Software)
Winner: Clarion:
Clarion supplies specialist communication professionals with employment advisor skills to seven Work Programme prime contractors across 15 CPAs to work with jobseekers who have difficulties with hearing.

Significant Achievement Award (sponsored by JCA)
Winner: David Coles
David lost his job in the recession and was then attacked by a teenage gang, resulting in metal plates being inserted in his head.  David was unemployed for two years, during which time his marriage broke down, he lost his home and he ended up living on the streets. However his commitment to finding employment and the support of Tomorrow’s People means he is now working as an operations controller for a car manufacturer.

Large Employer of the Year Award (sponsored by Mencap)
Winner: B & M Stores
B&M Stores recruited 1,131 staff members through Ingeus’ recruitment service, which matches Work Programme clients to suitable vacancies with local, regional and national employers.  More than 70% of employees are still working with B&M.

Small or Medium Employer of the Year Award (sponsored by PublicCo)
Winner: The Whitehouse Hotel
The Whitehouse Hotel has been working in partnership with Scope, subcontractor for Working Links on Work Choice, for over 12 months. During this time Paul Langshaw, the Hotelier, has provided work experience opportunities for 10 customers and has offered jobs to seven disabled people on a permanent basis.

Advisor of the Year (sponsored by Workpays)
Winner: Lauren Bailey-Rhodes (nominated by Manchester Cathedral)
Lauren Bailey-Rhodes designed, launched and is successfully running a new volunteer programme out of Manchester Cathedral, where people volunteer for roles at the Cathedral and are then matched with employers. The programme funded by Jobcentre Plus has an overall success rate of 60% for moving people into employment.  The success is down to many things but most notably Lauren,  a Volunteer Manager … she is rota co-ordinator, counsellor, manager, advocate, adviser, employment broker, mock interviewer, stress adviser, listener, tweeter, face-booker, mentor, and trainer.

The Institute of Employability Professionals (IEP) Professionalisation Award
Winner: Seetec

Seetec has a culture of learning and professionalisation that is embedded from the top down throughout the company. It is particularly effective at retaining talent through the use of learning initiatives and qualifications and has a strong commitment to professionalization, ensuring that all employees have a strong CPD plan. It is also supporting all staff to join the Institute of Employability Professionals.

The ERSA Employability Award Night also saw the presentation of the JCA Maps Bursary Award which is awarded to people who best demonstrate life-changing progress through the assistance they have received from their advisor using JCA employability tools. This year’s winner is Olma Edeki who turned her life around following post-natal depression and has now completed a charity sky dive and pursued a career as a personal trainer. 

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