The winners of the ERSA Employability Awards 2016, sponsored by APM, were announced last night at an evening ceremony attended by the new Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health, Penny Mordaunt MP, and hosted by ITV news presenter Lucrezia Millarini. 

The ERSA Employability Awards are now in their fourth year. The awards showcase and champion best practice from across the employment support sector, celebrating and recognising the hard work and achievements of those involved in supporting people into work from advisors working one to one with a jobseeker to overcome their barriers to employment; to employers who look beyond traditional barriers, such as a criminal record; to the jobseeker themselves moving into employment. 

This year the awards were judged by Nick Butler, Policy Lead for the Work and Health Programme at the Department for Work and Pensions; Andy Cook, Programmes Director at the Centre for Social Justice; and Christine Chang, Senior Director, Investments at Big Society Capital. The ceremony night included a reception sponsored by PeoplePlus.

ERSA is delighted to announce the following winners of the 2016 award:

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

Winner: Steps 2 Success music programme nominated by Ingeus is an experimental music programme which is designed to develop the skills required for an individual to find lasting work by drawing on the similarities between music and employment. The week-long course involved the participants writing and recording a song about their experiences. 40% of the clients on the first programme found work, one within a week of completing the course

Advisor of the Year- sponsored by Alderwood: Recognising an employment advisor who has demonstrated exceptional commitment in a frontline role.

Winner: Keith Tottingham, Standguide, has been in the employability Industry for 7 years. He has overcome many personal difficulties and progressed from being a long term unemployed customer to one of Standguide’s top performing advisors.

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

Winner: Scottish and Southern Energy nominated by Barnardos, has worked with Barnardo’s to support, prepare and offer 6 months paid employment to young people who would otherwise be unable to secure employment through their more traditional recruitment routes. The young people are employed in the full range of posts within SSE including Customer Care, Training, Facilities Management and HR.

Youth Employment – sponsored by Intraining and Rathbone: This award seeks to recognise an exemplar provider who has demonstrated exceptional dedication to helping young people (aged 16 – 24) overcome barriers to enter and maintain work.

Winner: Royal Mencap Society Oxfordshire Supported Internship programme works in partnership with colleges and the local authority in Oxfordshire to offer Supported Internships to young learning disabled people. This is a study programme which includes both educational input from a college and a real workplace placement, along with specialist support for this client group delivered by Mencap.

IEP Professionalisation Award – sponsored by the Institute of Employability Professionals: Recognising the commitment of an individual, team or organisations to championing the professionalisation of the employment support sector.

Winner: Remploy is an IEP Patron providing colleagues with IEP corporate membership and giving ERS/ESS diploma achievers a year associate membership. Remploy has invested in the development of a suite of courses, available within the Remploy Academy, providing Employment Advisers with the skills required to effectively support candidates into sustainable employment.

SME Employer of the Year – sponsored by the Twist Partnership: Recognising a small or medium employer who has demonstrated exceptional commitment in creating opportunities for disadvantaged and long term unemployed jobseekers.

Winner: Budgens, Upper Street, nominated by Islington Council is an independent supermarket with a strong presence in the local community. The owner Paul has demonstrated exceptional commitment to creating opportunities for Islington residents experiencing disadvantage and / or long term unemployment.

Disability and Health Employment – sponsored by RBLI: Recognising an employment services provider who has demonstrated exceptional commitment in supporting jobseekers with limiting disabilities and health conditions to achieve sustained employment.

Pluss is a social enterprise specialising in welfare to work services for people with disabilities and health conditions who need specialist, intensive help to gain and retain work. With a turnover of £28m, Pluss is the UK’s largest Social Firm – which means half of its 500 employees have a disability.

Partner of the Year – sponsored by ICONI: Recognising excellence as a delivery partner in the field of employment support.

Joint winner: Open doors nominated by Capability Scotland is a consortium of providers of employability services for people with disabilities and long-term conditions who recognised that they were consistently competing against one another. ENABLE Scotland; the Royal National Institute of Blind People Scotland (RNIB Scotland); Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH); Action on Hearing Loss Scotland; Capability Scotland and the Lennox Partnership created Open Doors to combine their skills to support both customers and commissioners.

Joint winner: Inspire to Independence nominated by Serco Welfare to Work is a Work Programme subcontractor to Serco in Coventry, Staffordshire and Stoke. i2i’s work with ESA customers is often described as ‘trailblazing’ thanks to their creative deployment of resources to better support customers with complex health needs to move into sustainable employment.

Significant Achiever of the Year – sponsored by Pluss: Recognising a specific jobseeker who has demonstrated exceptional commitment to overcoming barriers to enter and maintain work.

Winner: Sharne Mulley nominated by Kennedy Scott has overcame significant barriers to find sustainable employment.

Lifetime Achievement – sponsored by Serco: 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: Teresa Scott is an entrepreneur who has dedicated her business life to getting people back to work. She founded Kennedy Scott in 1989 and under her leadership the company has grown into one of the best performing welfare-to-work training and support providers in the country. Having started with one office in Islington, Kennedy Scott’s operation achieved national coverage for the first time this year.

Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive of ERSA, said:

“All the winners of this year’s awards are truly outstanding individuals and organisations who have shown exceptional dedication to supporting people towards, and into, the labour market.

“Their work deserves to be recognised and the awards gives us an opportunity to say thank you and celebrate these achievements.”


Press enquiries should be directed to Anna Robin on 020 3757 9415/ 07912 569 449

Notes to Editors

1. The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) is the sector body for those delivering or with an interest in employment support services.  ERSA’s membership spans the private, voluntary and public sectors and ranges from large multi-nationals through to small specialist charities.  It has over 220 members, including all prime contractors of the Work Programme. The majority of its members are not for profit.
2. The ERSA Employability Awards welcomed applications from all organisations working to support jobseekers into employment, whether housing associations, local authorities, Jobcentre Plus offices, charities, social enterprises colleges or private sector providers. Entries to the ERSA Employability Awards were judged by an independent panel of judges.
3. The Lifetime achievement award was judged by a sector panel made up of Alex Stevenson, Vice Chair of ERSA; Liz Sewell, Director of the Institute of Employability Professionals and Mick May, Founder of Blue Sky and last year’s winner of the lifetime achievement award in 2015.
4. The 2016 ERSA Employability Awards headline sponsor is APM.