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Posted By Heather Ette, 05 August 2017
Updated: 24 July 2017

Estonian Delegation Get New Perspectives From IEP

A delegation from the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs visited the UK recently to conduct a series of interviews with people involved in the IEP to build a case study example of the work that the IEP does and to learn lessons from senior industry practitioners on ‘what works’ specifically around disability assessments and subsequent support.


Speaking of the visit, Sabina Trankmann, Chief Specialist at the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs (top left) said “The connections from your network are very valuable for us and we will definitely use the material from interviews and the new ideas we collected in our future work. The honest viewpoints and shared experiences of the professionals we met gave us some new perspectives for our work. We wish your colleagues to know that their time spent with us was highly appreciated and they had a real possibility to contribute to development of Estonian Work Ability policy. We are very interested in ideas you might have about further co-operation with IEP.”


Scott Parkin FIEP, IEP Chairman said “It was a real pleasure to both arrange this visit and to meet with Sabina and Arne finally. We have spent the last few months planning who they would meet and what they would do and for me it really worked. The IEP believes in sharing best practice and supporting all those that help others with employment support to achieve even better services for customers and thus a tangible improvement in outcome performance. This transcends operational, organisational, geographical and cultural boundaries and I look forward to doing more with colleagues from the Estonian Ministry in the coming months.


“It was great to hear about the progress they are making in, what is, still quite a young industry and nation as a whole. I believe delegates from the UK were able to glean as much useful information as they were able to impart and for that I am grateful that the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs decided to partner with the IEP for this visit.”


Other IEP representatives involved in the visit were Patrick Hughes FIEP, Pat Russell MIEP, Natalie Ward, Richard Brooks FIEP, David Imber FIEP. Deborah Tillett FIEP and Stewart Holdsworth MIEP.


Salient Work’s Patrick Hughes FIEP said “This meeting with colleagues from Estonia was an excellent IEP initiative. From my perspective, we had a serious discussion about an important issue: in this case the design and delivery challenges of putting in place a service which contacts, assesses and tries to find work for people on long term inactive, incapacity benefits. It was striking how two countries, quite different in scale and history, had very similar problems.


“So, we were able to do exactly what IEP does at its best - sharing good ideas and lessons learnt across boundaries whether they be organisational, professional, geographical or even cultural. All in all, it was a great idea, and good fun too. I've agreed to stay in touch with these excellent colleagues and hope to meet them again to hear more about what they have done."


VRC’s David Imber FIEP said “Many thanks to all who contributed: this was a really informative set of discussions, showing the range of opinions, the complexity of the subject and the different contributions made by many organisations. Two things shone out: that the combination of welfare with disability makes a complex policy area with many competing demands and pressures; and that ethical judgements have at least as important a role as financial and economic efficiency considerations. Our visitors have said they found this a very helpful day, and no doubt their Ministers will be much enlightened, so thank you all."


Stewart Holdsworth MIEP from Serco said “The thing that struck me most was the similarities between the two countries, particularly the fact that citizens in Estonia more often than not define themselves by their disability or condition, and present it as the barrier/reason they cannot work, just as they do here. Similarly, to the UK this “view” is then reinforced by society at large. This is one of the key issues we share, although, I think it sounded like we had come further with how we (UK society) “views” disability possibly thanks to the Paralympics etc. although that may not be the case when it comes to Mental Health, but we know there is some focus on improving that now.


“We agreed that one of the key things required to enable citizens with health and disability needs to progress into work, was self-efficacy and an attitudinal shift to redefine themselves and reposition themselves towards a positive “can-do” approach to life and subsequently employment. Part of this “solution” threw up another key synergy around the need to engage employers as early as possible in the citizen’s journey towards self-efficacy and employment; Estonia, like the UK needed to drive a culture shift in the business community (particularly SMEs) around how they view disability and the benefits of more inclusive recruitment strategies.”


APM’s Pat Russell MIEP said “The Estonian officials were particularly interested in how we work with a range of public and VSC suppliers in our delivery areas as there is a lot of suspicion of possible private sector delivery in Estonia. The journey APM has been on with the eight London Boroughs in Working Capital was a great story to illustrate that it’s all about building relationships and working on the right values. I took the opportunity to press home how important it is for commissioners to be very clear about what they want and to work with providers to ensure that they commission what is deliverable.”



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