Do you want to help shape the future of employment support?

ERSA will be hosting four online roundtable discussions over the next month, to inform the work of the independent Commission on the Future of Employment Support. The Commission is being run by the Institute for Employment Studies in partnership with abrdn Financial Fairness Trust, and is working to develop evidence-led proposals so that our approach to employment support can better meet the needs of individuals, employers and the economy.

Places are limited, so please sign up to the roundtable that best fits your role or interests, dates below.

There is more on the Commission, its members and work so far at this link here.

ERSA has submitted written and oral evidence to the commission, and this is now your chance to have your say directly. Each roundtable will be online and will look at different aspects of employment support.

ERSA Member Roundtables on the Future of Employment Support

  • 9 May, 10-11am | Partnership managers/ staff
  • 11 May, 10-11am | Employer facing services
  • 31 May, 10-11am | Voluntary and community organisations
  • 1 June, 10-11am | Frontline practitioners

Register your interest now

Investing in knowledge and skills: why it’s never too late to start an apprenticeship

As thousands of young people start on their career paths at university or on apprenticeships, one logistics employer is demonstrating the value of apprenticeships to provide new skills and opportunities to workers of all ages. 

At Good Logistics, Learning and Development Advisor Sarah Coates is developing an apprenticeships programme which embodies the company’s ethos of valuing its people, providing continuous learning opportunities and planning ahead for its future. 

“Apprenticeships are an opportunity for everyone and we fully support the learning and development of our employees,” she said.  “Our philosophy is not to relate to an individual’s age, it is about their attitude and willingness to learn.” 

Working with skills specialist Seetec Outsource, Sarah is keen to promote the logistics industry as a great career for people of all ages. At a time when latest Government figures show record levels of people aged 65 and over in employment,* Sarah believes the investment in upskilling will aid retention and increase employees’ confidence to carry out their job roles.  

Two employees in their thirties who have embarked on International Freight Forwarding apprenticeshipsKelly from Good Logistics are proof of the value of this approach. Recruited from a customer services background, Kelly admits she “fell into logistics”. After originally planning to study at university, she realised it wasn’t the route for her and, by chance, ended up working for a major export company. 

When she joined Good Logistics with several years’ experience in logistics, she stressed her desire for further training and upskilling and Sarah invited her to start the apprenticeship. Sarah said it would take hard work and commitment – but was a great opportunity.  

“I felt the company was investing in my future,” Kelly explained. “It’s a common misconception that apprenticeships are for school leavers. Apprenticeships are a great way to extend your knowledge.  

“I’ve found my apprenticeship really reinforcing, I’ve got knowledge of the industry but it’s great to understand why we do what we do, rather than just doing it. What I like about my job is that every day is different, you’ve got to be on the ball and aware of what can happen. 

“I’ve broadened my experience and knowledge and gained greater confidence, it’s a great foundation and gives me a qualification to demonstrate my knowledge. It provides an opportunity to progress to different roles. Good Logistics are a great company to work for and I believe there will be career progression with them.” 

Michael joined Good Logistics nearly two years ago, after losing his job as an export administrator at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and working through the pandemic in a care role for Suffolk County Council. 

Michael jumped at the chance to start the International Freight Forwarding apprenticeship to further develop his skills. “I wanted to gain more knowledge. I’m relatively new to the industry and want to understand the bigger picture. 

“It’s an investment by the company in my knowledge. It was hard to go back to studying and adapt to the way of learning, but I am surrounded by supportive people,” he explained. 

“It is giving me the opportunity to gain professional qualifications, I’ve already achieved my BTEC in Customs Procedures, and, once I complete the apprenticeship, I have no doubt it will open the door to new opportunities and inspire confidence from my colleagues. I like to be reliable and to be able to help people. 

“I don’t let anyone joke about me doing an apprenticeship, I get in first and say I need time to do my homework. I like what I do, I like to understand where I fit and how others fit into the bigger picture.” 

Sarah Coates is delighted the apprentices have embraced the culture of learning and self-development, that Good Logistics has set out to create. “Both Michael and Kelly have demonstrated great improvement and have grown in confidence, their managers are really impressed with them. 

“Michael is going from strength to strength developing his knowledge about customs, gaining a distinction in his BTEC. Kelly has been brilliant, she’s determined, ambitious and very proactive.” 

Sarah praised the service offered by Seetec Outsource and is looking to expand the programme by offering Leadership and Management apprenticeships. 

For more information about apprenticeships with Seetec Outsource, see:  


Photos: Apprentices Kelly and Michael 

Learning and Development Advisor Sarah Coates 

Notes to Editors 

*ONS figures for people aged 65 years and over in employment in the UK to June 2022 

On the IEP’s 10th anniversary ERSA reflects on its role in establishing the Institute of Employability Professionals

Happy Anniversary IEP from ERSA – we have shared ten years collaboration, shared office, shared staff and whilst we now have clear water between the two organisations, we have a shared mission to make the employment support sector the best it can be.

happy anniversary IEP from ERSA banner

On the IEP’s 10th anniversary ERSA reflects on its role in establishing the Institute of Employability Professionals.

In July 2011, the Institute of Employability Professionals (IEP), was launched at the Welfare to Work Convention in Birmingham. The IEP was a new organisation dedicated to improving the take-up of training and qualifications by individuals working in the employment services industry.

The purpose of the IEP was to provide recognition to those employability professionals looking to enhance their careers in the sector. By providing career support to individuals wishing to undertake a professional qualification as well as providing opportunities for individuals to network and share best practice.

In September 2011, ERSA led a successful collaborative bid, with AELP and Inclusion, to the UK Commission for Employment & Skills (UKCES) for Growth & Innovation Fund investment to establish an Institute of Employability Professionals for the employment services industry.

ERSA as the sector’s trade body representing organisations recognised the need for a separate organisation focussing on individuals working in the sector through a membership-led institute dedicated to raising performance through professional standards and qualifications for people working in the employment services sector.

This built upon the successful work by POWER (the Professionalisation of Welfare to Work Expert Reference), a cross-industry collaborative group who in partnership with EDI launched the first suite of qualifications for the employment services sector in the summer of 2011.

Launching the Institute of Employability Professionals

Great sector leadership was in place to establish the two complementary organisations, ERSA and IEP, and the sector should today remember the work of Fran Parry, Alan Cave (then of the DWP) and Janette Faherty OBE  for having the vision to establish the IEP, and for encouraging ERSA to incubate the IEP, and drive forward the professionalisation of the welfare to work industry/employment support sector committed to raising standards. The purpose of the IEP was, and remains, to provide recognition to those employability professionals looking to enhance their careers in the sector. By providing career support to individuals wishing to undertake a professional qualification as well as providing opportunities for individuals to network and share best practice.

ERSA helped establish the first IEP board chaired by Janette Faherty OBE, and several companies stepped forward to become Founder Patrons. The Founders each made a significant contribution to setting up the Institute and preparing it for launch.

The IEP Founder Patrons were: Avanta, EDI, ESG, Inspire 2 Independence, JHP Group, Maximus, Parkhouse Bell, PPDG, Seetec, Shaw Trust, Remploy, Working Links and Workpays.

It is great to see the legacy of the sector’s leaders and IEP Founder patrons ten years on today.

Happy Anniversary IEP from ERSA.


Chancellor sets date for Autumn Budget and Spending Review

Rishi Sunak has named October 27 as the date for the three-year Spending Review, as well as his Autumn Budget.

The Budget and Spending Review will see the Chancellor set out how he plans to balance the books following a number of difficult decisions on how to repair the economy following the Covid pandemic.

The date was announced during the Prime Minister’s address to the Commons on Tuesday, where he confirmed controversial plans to increase National Insurance by 1.25%.

Read more; 

7 September 2021 Guardian

8 September 2021 FT Adviser

Tony Wilson, Director, IES on twitter

23 September 2020 BBC: Coronavirus: Autumn Budget to be scrapped this year

Information and networking session for ERSA members

Hear analysis from this year’s autumn budget and spending review with Tony Wilson, Director at the IES at ERSA members online meeting ‘ Communications and Political Insights Network (CPIN)’ on 2 November at 11am – more details and to register in advance (members and guests) here. 


DWP’s Flexible Support Fund DPS 2

UPDATE: DWP Flexible Support Fund Dynamic Purchasing System 2 (FSF DPS 2) – Market Events in August, September and a post launch event in October. 

Download the slides and Q&A Log captured from the sessions

Event Supporting slides

Event Q&A Log (6 September) Q&A Log (9 September)

Post Launch Event Supporting slides  (14 October) Q&A log (14 October) 

DWP Test and Learn Dynamic Purchasing System: guidance for businesses

How to register and apply for tender opportunities through the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Test and Learn Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS). (Updated 5 November)


The Flexible Support Fund Dynamic Purchasing System 2 (FSF DPS 2) is the replacement for the DWP Dynamic Purchasing System for provision of work-focused activities known as the Flexible Support Fund DPS (FSF DPS).  The current FSF DPS will expire on 31st October 2021 and FSF DPS2 will replace it for new call-offs from 1st November 2021.  We plan for the transition to be a smooth as possible but there will be some changes and actions to take for suppliers. Prior to the November launch the new DPS will open to suppliers to accredit in Autumn 2021 and to support this DWP will be holding a number of engagement events throughout August. These will cover the key changes and what suppliers will need to do to register and later bid for call-off contracts. 

We plan for the transition to be a smooth as possible but there will be some changes and actions to take for suppliers. Prior to the November launch the new DPS will open to suppliers to accredit in September 2021 and to support this DWP have held a number of engagement events throughout August and September. Events covered the key changes and what suppliers will need to do to register and later bid for call-off contracts.

Building on lessons learnt and supplier feedback on the existing DPS we are aiming to introduce a number of improvements.  Full details on the DPS design will be provided in these sessions including key changes such as:

  • the introduction of a Request for Quote (RFQ) approach
  • an updated Employability Journey and Payment model
  • Streamlined accreditation process
  • New evaluation & supplier feedback approach for call-offs

All suppliers interested in joining FSF DPS2 will be required to register when the DPS is launched for accreditation applications, including suppliers who are already accredited to the existing FSF DPS. In the meantime, the existing FSF DPS continues to operate and remains open for applications and call-offs via the Jaggaer system.

Support for Afghan arrivals in the UK

A significant cross-government effort is underway, ‘Operation Warm Welcome’, to ensure Afghans arriving in the UK receive the vital support they need to rebuild their lives, find work, pursue education and integrate into their local communities.

As part of the New Plan for Immigration, the government announced that those coming to the UK through resettlement routes would receive immediate indefinite leave to remain. On September 1 the Home Secretary announced that this will apply to Afghans who worked closely with the British military and UK Government in Afghanistan, and risked their lives in doing so, meaning they can now stay in the UK without any time restrictions.

The support for Afghan arrivals includes:

  • £3 million of additional NHS funding so that Afghans arriving under the Afghanistan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme can access healthcare and register with a GP once they leave quarantine;
  • all are being offered the COVID-19 vaccine and so far more than 700 arrivals under the ARAP scheme have left quarantine and received their first vaccination, with more leaving and receiving a jab each day; 
  • £5 million funding for councils in England, Wales and Scotland to support Afghans coming to the UK via the ARAP scheme and provide a top up to help meet the costs of renting properties;
  • the Government is already working with more than 100 councils across the UK to meet the demand for housing, with over 2,000 places already confirmed;
  • the Communities Secretary will convene a roundtable with council leaders from across the country;
  • to harness the generosity of the British public and make sure those who want to help know where to turn we will launch an online portal to allow people to submit offers of support for people arriving from Afghanistan;
  • this portal is already available to submit offers of housing and work is now underway to expand this to further offers, such as job opportunities, professional skills training or donations of items like clothes or toys; and
  • £200 million has been committed to meet the cost of the first year of the Afghanistan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme, which aims to welcome up to 20,000 Afghans.

People already relocated to the UK under the ARAP scheme will be able to apply free of charge to convert their temporary leave into indefinite leave. This will give Afghans the certainty and stability to rebuild their lives with unrestricted rights to work and the option to apply for British citizenship in the future.

The leave granted to those resettled in the UK ensures access to benefits and services, and we are working with local authorities to ensure individuals can access DWP services as quickly as possible alongside the comprehensive support package. When they’re ready, repatriated Afghans will also have the right to work, and our jobcentre teams will be there to help them with that. If you wish to help with employing people from these groups, please do get in touch at EMPLOYER.ADVICE@DWP.GOV.UK.

Read the full press release

Property owners or organisations who may be able to assist can get in touch through the GOV.UK portal.

Opportunity Sheffield – Targeted Employability Support – Pathways to Progress Ambition

Sheffield City Council logo

Sheffield City Council has £210,000 available to fund targeted employment support projects in Sheffield between October 2021 and March 2022. Bids are invited for projects that support unemployed or economically inactive people to move closer to the labour market, including into education, training or work. We are seeking bids for projects that will support people from a range of groups: Care Leavers, Homeless, Ex-offenders, Lone Parents, BAMER/Ethnic Minorities, Disengaged 18-24s, Disabilities and Socially/Economically Excluded.

This project is part funded by the European Social Fund

Filling Green Jobs through Employment Support Schemes

The Employment Support Sector and Net Zero

By Calum Carson, from Racing to Net Zero – the role of post-16 education and skills.

The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) is the representative body for the
employment support sector. The sector has a central role to play in the UK’s challenge
to become net zero by 2050, and our members have a series of tools at their disposal to
contribute to this aim.
To reach net zero, every sector needs to examine their regular practices, and establish more
sustainable forms of working. The employment support sector is no different, but through
its work it can also facilitate the greening of a wider number of other industries, and help
prepare the UK workforce for the transition to a net zero economy. It has a key part to play
in translating the promises of political leaders into detailed reality.

Specialist Providers

The employment support sector encompasses a huge range of specialist providers delivering
skills provision, employability programmes, and in-work support, among a myriad of other
services. They deliver services to people at every stage of their employability journey, from
those ready and able to start work, to those already in work and seeking to progress towards
new roles.

Job Search leading to Green Jobs

Through the establishment of an ongoing dialogue with both commissioners of employability
provision and employers themselves, the sector can help to facilitate the road to net zero
by prioritising job search and employability schemes that lead jobseekers into Green Jobs.
Skills Training leading to Green Jobs
Skills training providers within the sector can also do their own part, by developing new
pathways that can equip individuals with the skills and training that will enable them to thrive
within such roles. Through the formation of such programmes, the employment support
sector can play a vital role in helping workers better exploit the new roles and opportunities
that technologies such as carbon capture, hydrogen and bioenergy can bring.


Examples of policymakers, employability providers, and employers working together in such
a joined-up manner can already be found within other nations. In Germany, for example, a
“Coal Commission” was created in 2018 to identify those roles that would be most impacted
by the phasing out of coal-fired power stations by 2038, and how new Green Jobs could be
created in alternative energy industries such as green hydrogen. Providers and employers
then worked together to identify the relevant individuals most suitable for these roles.

Net Jobs in Net Zero

We would urge the UK Government to learn from such examples, and to strengthen the
links between commissioners, providers, and employers to better plan for and exploit the
strategic employment opportunities that the road to net zero can provide. It is a regrettably
unavoidable fact that travelling down this road will eliminate some existing roles within
some industries, as Green Jobs are created in others: by working together, the Government,
employers, providers, and workers can help to ease this transition.

Whitehall-Wide Coordination

The government has created a Green Jobs Taskforce between the Department for Business,
Energy and Industrial Strategy, and the Department for Education. This is a welcome
move. Going forward, however, the Department for Work and Pensions – the department
responsible for job search and back to work schemes for unemployed people – should also
be part of the GJT to ensure unemployed adults can be signposted to green jobs.

Recommendation 1

Commissioners of employability provision should prioritise and incentivise the facilitation
of Green Jobs into future strategies. They can play a key role in keeping the transition to
net zero on the agenda of employment support providers, through both prioritising the net
zero agenda and incentivising provider’s own efforts in this area.

Recommendation 2

Employment support providers should seize the opportunity to embed a focus on Green
Jobs into their programmes and services. Providers should work in tandem with the sectors
that they interact with to find ambitious and creative routes to link jobseekers with Green
Jobs, emphasising the clear business case for doing so to employers.

Recommendation 3

Skills training providers should place a greater focus on providing participants with the skills
needed for Green Jobs. Ensuring that the right skills and training is available to properly equip
individuals for Green Jobs and the transition to a low-carbon economy is of paramount
importance. Ongoing in-work support and progression is also critical, as new roles are
created and new opportunities emerge as we progress closer and closer to 2050.

Racing to Net Zero – the role of post-16 education and skills

Calum Carson headshot

Contributors to Racing to Net Zero 

  • Shaun Spiers, Green Alliance – Greening the Economy, Greening the Environment 
  • Stephen Evans, Learning and Work Institute – A more ambitious Net Zero ‘Economic, Jobs and Skills’ Plan 
  • Paul Nowak, TUC – Workers, Skills and the Net Zero Economy 
  • Duncan Brown, Emsi – The Demand for Green Jobs and Green Skills 
  • Ewart Keep, University of Oxford, Labour Market Intelligence for Green Jobs and Green Skills 
  • Jane Hickie, AELP – Filling Green Jobs with Level 2+ Apprenticeships 
  • Calum Carson, ERSA – Filling Green Jobs through Employment Support Schemes 
  • David Hughes, Association of Colleges – FE Colleges, Upskilling, Reskilling and Net Zero 
  • Susan Pember, HOLEX – Adult and Community Education and Net Zero 
  • Nick Hillman, HEPI – Universities and Net Zero 
  • Bill Watkin, Six Form Colleges Association – 16-18 Education and Net Zero 
  • John Widdowson, Former FE Principal – 16-18 Level 3 T Levels and Net Zero 
  • Rebecca Conway, Federation of Awarding Bodies – Net Zero and the ‘Level 3 and Below’ Curriculum 
  • Charlotte Bonner, Education and Training Foundation – Education for Sustainable Development and the FE Workforce 
  • Adrian Anderson, UVAC – Green Jobs, Apprenticeships and Higher Technical Education 
  • Victoria Hands and Stephen Peake, The Open University – Education for Sustainable Development in Higher Education 

Racing to Net Zero authors raise a number of important issues for developing a post-16 education and skills response including: 

  • The need to differentiate between green jobs and green skills within existing jobs. The post-16 education and skills system will need to respond to both.
  • Upskilling and reskilling to meet the transition to Net Zero is not the sole domain of Level 4-8 Higher Education. Upskilling and reskilling at Level 3 and below will also be required to meet the needs of green jobs and green skills for existing jobs.
  • The government cannot rely solely on apprenticeships for upskilling and reskilling at Level 3 and Level 2 for green jobs. As apprenticeships are employer employer-driven, levy payers may wish to fund non-green jobs through apprenticeships.
  • The need for data on the proportion of green gig jobs as a share of green jobs that will be created. Green gig jobs with insecure income may not be as attractive to young people and adults. Insecure incomes may also prevent young people and adults from upskilling and reskilling if they need to put earning before learning.
  • The need to follow the lead of providers developing strategies to embed education for sustainable development in Level 2 to Level 6 qualification and academic and vocational courses (including T levels and Higher Technical Qualifications).
  • Understanding the role of whole institution strategies for transitioning to Net Zero. Institutions in the post-16 sector are already implementing strategies that cover decarbonising estates, incorporating education for sustainable development in teaching and learning, and providing a voice for learners of all ages to initiate change to reduce global warming.

To read the authors’ recommendations download the full paper.

Download the paper

Department for Education have an open consultation for the National Skills Fund

Department for Education Logo


We’re seeking views on the current offers funded through the National Skills Fund. The consultation also requests views on meeting critical skills needs.

Why we are consulting

The National Skills Fund will help adults gain valuable skills and improve their job prospects. It will also support the immediate economic recovery and future skills-needs by boosting the supply of skills that employers need.

We have already used this investment to fund two evidence-based offers as part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee. In future years, we want to build upon the solid foundations of the first year of funding to drive even better results. This consultation therefore seeks views on three areas: i) Free qualifications for adults; ii) Skills Bootcamps, and iii) Meeting critical skill needs.

How to answer the consultation:

Please use the link below to respond to the National Skills Fund consultation through the online system.

If you are unable to use the online system, for example because you use specialist accessibility software that is not compatible with the system, you may download a pdf version of the consultation document and email or post your response.

We are also offering online consultation feedback events as another way for stakeholders to provide their views.  You can find out more information about these events and book to attend through the Eventbrite links below.

Link to Online Survey