ERSA is committed to improving the skills and expertise of individuals working in the welfare to work industry.
Ensuring that staff in the welfare to work sector are equipped with the skills to give the best possible support to the jobseeker is an essential element in the delivery of successful programmes. That is why ERSA is committed to an industry-wide collaboration to increase the professionalism of the workforce.
The journey to professionalisation
In the past, short term contracts led to high staff turnover and less investment in staff skills than was desirable. In recent years the case for greater investment in a more stable workforce has become obvious. This was best articulated by two research reports: the first by the Institute of Public Policy Research on the role of the frontline adviser and the second by the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion on the case for professionalisation.
Over the last two years, ERSA has supported the work of the Professionalisation of Welfare to Work Expert Reference (POWER) Group, which has spearheaded the development of fit for purpose qualifications for the employment-related services industry. The first qualifications, for frontline advisers, are now being taken up by employers across the sector.
The Institute of Employability Professionals (IEP)
In 2011, the industry was successful in an ERSA-led bid to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills to set up the Institute of Employability Professionals (IEP) – an industry body for welfare to work practitioners launched in July 2012. Anybody working in the industry is able to join the Institute, with levels of membership ranging from ‘associate’ through to ‘fellow’. The Institute offers its members:
- Credibility –recognised professional status
- Career support –opportunities to develop themselves
- Connections –opportunities for members to network
- Community –a sense of belonging.