I’m delighted that, following months of talk and planning, the inaugural ERSA Employability Awards are now open for entries. This is an opportunity for us as an industry to showcase the best in class and celebrate the hard work of staff, employers, partners and jobseekers who make it all possible.
We can all honestly say 2012 was a tough year for the welfare to work sector. The industry has often been in the limelight, with reports too often focused on the negative. This has been difficult for everyone in the industry, but particularly hard for those working on the frontline with jobseekers, some of whom may have received the message that employment services do not work.
But we know they do work.
We hear about jobseekers who have been out of work for maybe a year, or five years, or perhaps twenty, but who because they have received the right support and have managed to gain employment.
We hear about people who have faced significant barriers to the labour market, such as addiction or mental health issues, but who have worked with advisers who go that extra mile to help them find a way back into the job market.
We hear about employers who have seen beyond the label of long term unemployment to give jobseekers a chance. And we also know of specialist subcontractors who utilise their expert knowledge, honed over years, to support those with specific needs into work.
So this is a rallying call. The industry and those working in it are making a positive difference and this should be celebrated and shouted about nationwide. We want the public to know, we want the government to know and the media to understand the good the industry does. But most importantly we want jobseekers to know, so that when they go to meet their advisors that first time, they see the opportunity that is available to them and make the most of it.