Award finalists rise to ‘The Covid Employability Challenge’

The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) has announced the finalists for the 2021 Employability Awards!

Supported by lead sponsors Cognisoft and Clarion Futures, the awards highlight the unsung employability heroes of the past year.

Now in their ninth year, the ERSA awards celebrate best practice in the employment support sector and demonstrate the hard work and dedication of those working to improve the lives of jobseekers, communities, and the wider workforce. This year over 200 entries were received from private, voluntary, social enterprise and public sector organisations across the UK.

This year’s theme recognises ‘The Covid Employability Challenge’ and the shortlist includes a wide variety of organisations and individuals who have delivered exceptional service and support to disadvantaged groups during the pandemic.

The 11 award categories highlight the range of work being undertaken to help people gain employment, from stand-out advisers demonstrating extraordinary commitment in a frontline role to teams supporting individuals and communities hardest hit by the pandemic, as well as the exceptional jobseekers and learners they support.

Elizabeth Taylor, ERSA CEO says: “We have been overwhelmed by the response to the ERSA Employability Awards and the truly inspiring work of all those who have gone above and beyond in what has been an incredibly challenging year.

“Thank you to all those who entered – you should be incredibly proud of your achievements – and a huge well done to all those who have made the shortlist. We can’t wait for the winners to be revealed at the end of November.”

Also open to non-ERSA members, the employability awards recognise any organisation involved in the sector. This year’s entries were judged by Associate Professor Jo Ingold, Department of Management, Deakin University; Sam Windett, Deputy Director, Learning and Work Institute; and Jagdeep Soor, Programme Manager at the Centre for Ageing Better and Gill Holmes, Director, Contract Management and Partner Delivery, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The winners will be announced during a hybrid networking event with live stream and viewing parties around the UK on Thursday 25 November.

The full list of finalists

Frontline Adviser of the Year – sponsored by the IEP: Employment advisers and job coaches demonstrating exceptional commitment in a frontline role.

  • Sandeep Koltharkar, Business 2 Business
  • Vikki Jackson, The Lennox Partnership – nominated by Capita Business Services
  • Morag Notman, Fedcap Employment
  • Vikki Foster, Money Sorted
  • Gaynor Wheeler, Recro Consulting
  • Jack, St Helens Chamber
  • Victoria Hague, The Growth Company

Frontline Manager of the Year – sponsored by Alderwood: Frontline managers or team leaders who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to leading their frontline team to excellent performance and customer achievements.

  • Sharyn Wall, Aspire Sussex
  • Darren Jones and Mairi Fraser, Blackpool Council
  • Julie Howells, Derventio Housing Trust
  • Steve Ricketts, Recro Consulting
  • Jack Cox, Sussex Community Development Association (SCDA)

Employer of the Year – sponsored by Arriva: Employers showing exceptional commitment by partnering with providers in their area, supporting disadvantaged and long-term unemployed jobseekers.

  • Arcus FM – nominated by Catch22
  • Haven – nominated by Seetec Pluss
  • Marks and Spencer, nominated by The Prince’s Trust
  • Borough Food Coop – nominated by Unity Works

Significant Achiever of the Year – sponsored by The Digital College: Organisations delivering employability programmes nominating exceptional jobseekers and learners they support.

  • Theo Thomas-Afonso, nominated by Fedcap Employment
  • Jolene Thompson-Carney, nominated by Offploy CIC
  • Gabriel, nominated by Recro Consulting
  • Bethany Carroll, nominated by Talent Finder
  • Joshua Wareham, nominated by Unity Works
  • Samantha Cuffy, nominated by Women’s Work Lab

Team of the Year – Disability and health – sponsored by Triangle Consulting – creators of the outcomes star: Frontline teams providing disability and wellbeing services, including mental health support.

  • St. Joseph’s Approved Premises Bike Project, nominated by Career Connect
  • The Case-UK Mental Health in-work Support team, Case-UK Limited
  • Gloucestershire County Council  
  • Papworth Trust     
  • South Yorkshire Housing Association       
  • Steps To Work       
  • The Action Group 
  • Twining Enterprise’s Employment Specialist Team – Disability and Health       

Team of the Year – Hardest hit – sponsored by NCFE: Frontline teams supporting individuals and communities hardest hit by the pandemic. 

  • ‘All About Me’ Team, Aspire Sussex
  • The Autism Project, CareTrade Charitable Trust
  • YES Project Team, YES Project

Team of the Year – Innovation – sponsored by Simpact CIC: Teams helping us remotely connect. 
 

  • The GRoW App Team, Belina Consulting
  •  The Disability Information Bureaux (DIB) – nominated by New Leaf Cheshire
  • Reaching People – Moneywise Plus Project
  • Saffron Interactive
  • Reducing Parental Conflict Team, Twin Group
  • Team Pie, Unity Works
  • West Lothian Council, Supported Employment Service
     

Team of the Year – Crisis management – sponsored by Transform Lives Company: Frontline teams providing essential and or emergency pandemic support

  • Fedcap Scotland (East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway)
  • Newground Together
  • Plus Dane Housing
  • Royal Borough of Greenwich – Greenwich Local Labour and Business

Team of the Year – Hidden heroes – sponsored by Care Plus Group: Working behind the scenes to enable services

  • Hertfordshire JETS, Catch22 and Jobs 22
  • Fedcap Employment
  • Recro Consulting

Community Partnership of the Year – sponsored by entitledto: Organisations working together to form partnerships that support local communities already furthest from the labour market. 

  • 3SC’s GLA Parental Employment Programme: Belina Grow, Successful Mums and the Write Timenominated by 3SC (3rd Sector Consortium)
  • MOU initiative: Trust for London, City Bridge Trust and the Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG) – nominated by Action West London
  • Kickstart Housing Partnership – nominated by Clarion Futures
  • SCDA and IT for You at Home – nominated by Sussex Community Development Association – SCDA
  • Essex Jobcentre Plus – nominated by Unity Works
  • Chaos TV – nominated by Seetec Pluss

Judged separately from the other categories, a truly inspiring individual who has made an Outstanding Contribution to the Sector will also be announced on Thursday 25 November. Sponsored by Recro Consulting

25 November, 2pm
Presentation of the Award Winners

Register now

26 November
Employability Day, Part 2 social media campaign highlighting this year’s winners

Additional information

ERSA’s 2020 winners can be found via a press release here
 

 

 

Have you met ‘The Covid Employability Challenge’ in 2021?

 

If ever there was a year to shout about your hard work and achievements, this is it! The countdown is on… join us in celebrating your success with the ERSA Awards 2021.
 
Sponsored by Cognisoft and Clarion Futures, the awards are your opportunity to hail a remarkable year and enjoy the recognition of your accomplishments.   
 
Elizabeth Taylor, ERSA CEO says: “Our theme this year is ‘The Covid Employability Challenge’ and our mission is to find individuals and teams who went above and beyond to deliver services to disadvantaged groups during the pandemic. We’re looking for entries from organisations of all sizes and our submission process is simple and achievable.
 
“You don’t even need to be an ERSA member; we recognise any organisation involved in the sector. Submitting an entry on behalf of a partner organisation is also a great way to recognise collaborative working and a job well done. Almost half of last year’s ERSA winners were nominated by another organisation.
 
“After this year, we are all winners, and with more work to do, why not give your team a boost and enter.”
 
We understand you’re busy, so we’ve simplified our categories and entry requirements to ensure we can choose from the very best. There’s a focus on individual, team and partnership achievements this year and we will be encouraging video submissions to visualise and support your entries. 

The award categories

  • Frontline Adviser of the Year
    Employment advisers and job coaches who have demonstrated exceptional commitment in a frontline role
  • Frontline Manager of the Year
    Frontline managers or team leaders who has demonstrated exceptional commitment to leading their frontline team to excellent performance and customer achievements
  • Employer of the Year
    Employers showing exceptional commitment by partnering with providers in their area, supporting disadvantaged and long-term unemployed jobseekers
  • Significant Achiever of the Year
    Organisations delivering employability programmes can nominate exceptional jobseekers and learners they support
  • Team of the Year – Disability and health
    Frontline teams providing disability and wellbeing services, including mental health support
  • Team of the Year – Hardest hit
    Frontline teams supporting individuals and communities hardest hit by the pandemic, including low-paid workers, young people NEET, diverse communities, experience of the justice system, women, learning disabilities and other disadvantaged groups
  • Team of the Year – Innovation
    Teams helping us remotely connect: Roll out of IT equipment to participants, digital accessibility, behind the scenes innovation to change ways of working through the pandemic
  • Team of the Year – Crisis management
    Frontline teams providing essential/emergency pandemic support: housing, food, benefits etc
  • Team of the Year – Hidden heroes
    Working behind the scenes to enable services: IT/digital services, service design, research and evidence
  • Community Partnership of the Year
    Organisations working together to form partnerships that support local communities already furthest from the labour market, and have been hit hardest by the pandemic
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Sector
    A truly inspiring individual who will be nationally recognised as a champion and ambassador for the sector

The awards timeline

Friday 18 June                awards open

Friday 1 September          awards close
Friday 1 October               shortlist announced
Thursday 25 November    awards announced

Additional information and support

Judged by an independent panel of industry experts, the ERSA Awards are an official commendation of exceptional best practice. They are also an opportunity to demonstrate the integrity of your services and business principles, plus they are a real draw for new employees, supplier partners and funders.

The presentation of the winners will be announced via a live broadcast event in front of ministers and sector stakeholders. 
 
We’ll be adding to our handy toolkit as the Awards progress

Social assets 


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Read more about the each of the 2020 Award Winners (and share via your social media accounts)
2020: Youth Employment Provider of the Year – The Prince’s Trust
2020: Team of the Year Joint winner: Building Bridges
2020: Team of the Year – Joint winner: Include-IT Mersey, VOLA Consortium
2020: Supply Chain Partner of the Year – Action West London
2020: Significant Achiever of the Year – Claire, Recro Consulting
2020: Outstanding Contribution to the Sector – Brian Bell, Fedcap
2020: Jobcentre of the Year Joint winner: Washwood Heath Jobcentre Plus
2020: Jobcentre of the Year Joint winner: Canning Town Jobcentre Plus
2020: Frontline Manager of the Year – Julia Marcus, London Borough of Camden Council
2020: Frontline Adviser of the Year – Gill Tollitt, VOLA Merseyside
2020: Employer of the Year – Excaliber Security Services Ltd
2020: Disability and Health Employment Provider of the Year – Ideal for All
2020: Housing Provider of the Year – Aspire Housing

The Awards are a fantastic springboard for raising your organisation’s profile whether you’re shortlisted or a winner.

Raise your profile by sponsoring an award category!
If you are interested in sponsoring an award category this year, get in touch with Laura Benfield, Head of Membership

Thank you to our sponsors, Clarion Futures, Cognisoft, entitledto and the Institute of Employability Professionals!

Watch out for further information and updates on our sponsors, the award criteria, the independent judging panel and awards compères! 

Ways to support this year’s awards!

  • Save the dates
  • Sponsor an award category
  • Encourage your colleagues, partners and networks to enter
  • Shout about the awards across social media using our hashtag #ERSAAwards21
  • Plan your submission

The ERSA Awards 2021 will open for entries on Friday 18 June.

If you have any questions, please get in touch. 

The ERSA Team
events@ersa.org.uk

Nominate an inspiring individual learner

Nominations open - FoL2021.png

Festival of Learning is the biggest celebration of lifelong learning in England. Led by Learning and Work Institute and supported by the Department for Education (DfE), the campaign has been running since 1992.

The awards celebrate adult learning at its best: the outstanding achievements of adults who have transformed their lives and the lives of others, the employers and learning provision that offer innovative and high quality learning and training opportunities to staff, local communities and disadvantaged individuals, and the tutors that go the extra mile for the benefit of their students.

Their award winners and their stories highlight how lifelong learning benefits society and the economy and can inspire others to discover the power of learning for themselves.

Festival of Learning 2021 award nominations are open until Tuesday 9 February 2021.

Full details, including guidance notes, top tips for writing a good nomination and the forms themselves can be found on their website.

ERSA Employability Awards 2019 open today

Today marks the official opening of the seventh annual ERSA Employability Awards. Entries are now open to individuals and organisations supporting jobseekers to gain, sustain and progress in work.

The ERSA Employability Awards 2019 celebrates best practice across the employment support sector. They are a chance to highlight and champion the day-to-day hard work and dedication of those working to improve the lives of jobseekers, communities and the wider workforce. 

ERSA encourage applications from a range of organisations working with disadvantaged jobseekers, including specialist providers, charities, community groups, health services, housing associations, local authorities, training providers and employers. 

The deadline for submissions is 15 March.

For more information and how to apply, visit www.ersa.org.uk/ersaawards19.

Elizabeth Taylor, ERSA’s Interim Chief Executive, said:

‘Every year, the ERSA Employability Awards recognise the incredible work of employment support providers and businesses helping people into employment. It’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate their achievements and raise awareness of what they do to transform people’s lives and build more inclusive communities.’ 

Finalists in each category will be announced at the ERSA AGM in April, with the awards presented at a special ceremony in London in the summer. More information and how to apply can be found here.

Follow @ERSA_news and join the conversation at #ERSAAwards19.

ERSA Employability Awards 2018 winners announced

The winners of the 2018 ERSA Employability Awards, sponsored by Clarion Futures, were announced last night (14 June) 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 entitledtoRecognising 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 JobskillaRecognising 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 by 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, Chief Executive, 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.