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Employability People

Posted By Administration, 23 July 2018

How to make learning work for EVERYONE

by George Selmer FIEP

There’s a lot of activity and interest in the education and training space at the moment. This can only be a good thing.

In the UK, the government are significantly reforming technical and vocational education. Apprenticeships and T Levels are the leading edge of this. They are the only significant initiative being delivered – other than Brexit – and form the bedrock of the narrative for how we build a new economy post-Brexit.

My learning journey

I’ve done a lot of work around apprenticeships in the last couple of years (you can find some of my writing on the subject  here). I spent a lot of the last year thinking hard about prison education – as the Ministry of Justice procure their latest round of provision. I’m now involved in some really interesting work around the implementation of T Levels.

I spent a long time designing and delivering large scale welfare to work programmes. A fundamental weakness of these programmes over time, was their lack of connectedness to proper vocational training. Whilst they helped a lot of people into employment, increasingly they were meeting a short-term demand side need with short term supply side resource. What they weren’t doing was addressing the fundamental weaknesses in our labour market – and building capacity on both sides.

We see the consequences in:

  • the enormously unstable base of the labour market, where many people – including members of my family – are living a precarious existence, moving from one low-value, insecure job to the next
  • our weak GDP growth and shockingly poor productivity levels, and;
  • in the extraordinary and growing levels of regional inequality.

So, yes – significantly improving our technical and vocational education system is a national necessity. For economic and social reasons.

There are a lot of things to get right. Adequate – if not ambitious – levels of funding for a start. Apprenticeship reform is experiencing growing pains, and there are concerns – many of which are valid – around the implementation of T Levels.

But, on a really fundamental level, we’ve got to get our core approach to training and education right. What is the philosophy on which it will all be built? What works best?

Having spent a lot of time thinking about this, I’ve distilled this down to three key pillars of effective education and training.

I’ve looked at a good bit of data, and reflected on my own experiences:

  • as a learner within the education system, and;
  • as an employee and employer within the workforce

I’ve also thought a lot about the people that I’ve worked with on various employment programmes:

  • from the long-term unemployed cultural studies graduate we placed into work in a call centre;
  • and the laid-off steel work, with a highly technical skill that was suddenly worthless;
  • to the teenage lad that couldn’t fill in a form, having attended the same school as I had, years earlier

They come as a package. You can’t implement one without the others. Taken together, they would help us create an education and training system that could transform our economy and our society. So, here they are.


  1. Individual. 
    • Learning must be  tailored to individual need to make an impact. Whether that’s ability, interest or specialist requirements, learning provision must feel relevant, inspiring and be accessible.
  2. Solid. 
    • Learning must be  clearly linked to real world outcomes to be truly motivating. This doesn’t have to be exclusively vocational or financial in nature, but a tangible goal is what will encourage engagement from learners.
  3. Social
    • Learning  needs to focus on character as much as curriculum, to drive long-term change. This isn’t a call for a return to some sort of Victorian moralism. It  is a recognition that the best learning is always about self development, as much as it is about competency, capability and knowledge gain.

The implementation of these three principles will look different, depending on the setting. Their realisation in a school system would look very different to their realisation in an apprenticeship programme. They’d look very different again in a university. They could be applied at a macro, system level – defining a nationwide approach to learning. They should also be applied – regardless – at provider and provision level.

Read more from George at George Selmer & Co here

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Employability People

Posted By Heather Ette, 13 June 2018

Birthday Honours recognition for Skills, Employability, Education & Justice

by Carley Consult

The Birthday Honours list has once again recognised the efforts and contributions of a host of people working across the skills, employability, education and justice sectors. Heading up the list, Matthew Coffey, Ofsted’s Chief Operating Officer, is made a Companion of the Order of the Bath. Karen Gosden, Universal Credit Area Director at DWP, is also made a Companion of the Order of the Bath, whilst Tim Read, DWP’s Implementation Delivery Manager for Universal Credit, receives a CBE.

Richard Frost, Employment Specialist Team Lead at the Devon Partnership NHS Trust, receives an MBE for services to mental health. He oversees Workways, a specialist service within the Trust, providing employment-focused support for local people experiencing stress, anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions. Elsewhere Henry Wilson, Project Director of REACH Community Projects in Haverhill, also receives an MBE for his work in providing drop-in support, money advice, and foodbank services aimed to help lift local people out of poverty.

Rehana Mohammed, Area Education Manager with the Workers’ Educational Association, receives an MBE for services to the education of marginalised women in Rochdale and Oldham. Violet Donovan, Co-founder of The Chris Donovan Trust, a charity established in the memory of her son who was tragically murdered, receives an MBE for services to restorative justice.

Angela Williams, Principal of Huddersfield New College, and Gill Alton, Chief Executive of the Grimsby Institute Group, both receive OBEs for services to education. Richard Bridgman, founder of mechanical engineering firm Warren Services Ltd, received an OBE for services to apprenticeships. Susan Simpson and Frederick Dodds, both Training Managers for WorldSkills UK, both receive MBES for services to the WorldSkills Competition. Alan Moss, Senior Lecturer at the RAF Central Training School, also receives an MBE for services to Apprentice Training.

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Welcome David Royle FIEP

Posted By Heather Ette, 11 May 2018

Welcome to our new Fellow, David Royle FIEP

The IEP is delighted to welcome David Royle FIEP as our new Fellow.

David has a wealth of experience in the employability and skills profession and, as Operations Manager for Reed in Partnership, manages all aspects of performance, both statistical and financial, quality, compliance and integration for Reed in Partnership's Work and Health Programme across West Yorkshire. He is also the Self-Employment lead for Reed in Partnership's internal Direct Delivery and was previously Performance and Quality Director at Standguide Limited.

Speaking of his new Fellowship David said, “I am extremely passionate about the sector and want to help shape its future. Being a Fellow of the IEP will help support my goals of continuing to develop my knowledge and skills, whilst giving me greater understanding of the wider Employability and Skills arena.  I am keen to continue to promote the IEP throughout Reed In Partnership's Better Working Futures contract to inform our staff of the benefits the IEP can bring them and I would look to establish an IEP West Yorkshire network which would hold regular networking meetings, bringing together like-minded individuals and businesses to discuss key Employability and Skills topics.”

IEP Chairman Scott Parkin FIEP said “David has been a keen promoter of the IEP for a number of years, both inside and outside of the working environment. He has attended regional and national events and has helped to increase the IEP’s Membership by supporting his staff with joining the IEP, promoting our aims and objectives whenever the opportunity has arisen.  He has encouraged staff at Reed in Partnership to get involved with the IEP, recommending the support and knowledge we can offer, particularly to staff who are new to the sector.  I have no doubt that having David as an IEP Fellow will be hugely beneficial to our aims and we are very pleased to have him on board.”

For more information about David click here


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Vote for the DEBSS Project

Posted By Heather Ette, 23 April 2018

Business Start-up Support Service for Disabled People Seeks Votes

The DEBSS Project, which is part of the SAMEE Charity, run by IEP Fellow Samantha Everard FIEP, has been selected as one of the 5 chosen charities in the 2018 People’s Project for the Meridian West area.

The Disabled Entrepreneurs Business Start-up Service (DEBSS) is a specialist pilot project specifically aimed at providing tailored business start-up support for disabled clients.  As part of The Samee Charity, the DEBSS pilot will bring focus to this vital area of provision through specialist workshops and mentoring support to help build disabled peoples’ confidence to either start a small business or develop their employability skills. It will also improve disabled peoples’ chances of finding suitable and sustainable employment.

In March 2017, clients with a range of disabilities were invited to attend a consultation at The Samee Centre to explore how The Samee Project could assist disabled clients more effectively on their journey to self-employment.

The main areas of business start-up support identified at the consultation were:

  • Advocacy & Mentoring
  • Exploring additional funding options
  • Networking & Marketing
  • Service Directory of Disability Friendly Suppliers
  • Establishment of DEBSS specific grant

In addition to their consultation, further research found that existing business start-up organisations in Dorset do not offer any kind of specialist support for disabled entrepreneurs. The DEBSS pilot will incorporate tailored intensive support allowing more time and resource to support each disabled client.

Samee’s ability to deliver the social impact and sustainability of the DEBSS pilot will be based around the success of disabled clients actively engaging with the service and clients will be engaged in developing employability skills with options like volunteering, for example, or being signposted to a suitable support organisations to address their specific needs.

Now in their 13th year, The People’s Projects are a partnership between the Big Lottery Fund, ITV, STV and The National Lottery to give the public a chance to decide how National Lottery funding should be put to good use in their local area. 

You can find out more and, of course, vote here 



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Employability People

Posted By Heather Ette, 06 September 2017

Employability People

Name:  Sean Talbot
Job Title: Partnership Engagement Manager
Organisation:  Serco

What is it you do?

I am the Partnership Engagement Manager for the Inspiring Families Programme (DWP ESF provision in North & East London), responsible for building a strong, collaborative relationships with key stakeholders, including Local Authorities, Troubled Families teams and JCP and other external Partners to create route ways to referral. I identify opportunities to complement and align with existing local provision, promote best practice, share ideas and intelligence.

What do you see as the biggest issues facing the employability sector?

Two-fold for me: firstly ensuring that employers are aware of the benefit of having a diverse workforce and that having people from differing backgrounds is a true benefit to them; secondly I feel that there is sometimes too much pressure around the numbers and that the individual can be lost. What I mean by that is that the Advisers on the ground can be under a great deal of pressure to gain quick results rather than feeling they can focus on people. That is the great thing about our programme, it is truly people focussed.

What do you think the employability sector is doing really well?

Communicating with employers and becoming smarter in the way that we promote the skills of people, truly understanding how people within a diverse workforce add value to an employer.

What do you think would improve the work of frontline staff?

Smaller caseloads; it’s like everything - the more time you have with a customer, the more attention you can give, the better. Employing innovative approaches to streamline administrative tasks which enable us to spend more time with the customer helps. Paperwork and providing evidence of the outcomes and impact of what we do will always remain a key part of the job, but we can and should continue to look for ways to make this process less onerous, maximising valuable time with the customer.

What key piece of advice would you give to Employability Advisers?

When trying to gain information always use open ended questioning and remain empathetic towards the customer. Always think about how you would want to be treated.

What is the best piece of advice you've been given?

Work smarter, not harder!!



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Employability People

Posted By Heather Ette, 10 August 2017


Name:  Simon Guy

Job Title: Work Programme Team Leader

Organisation: The Source Skills Academy

What is it that you do?

I am a Team Leader at The Source Skills Academy, part of the team that delivers the Work Programme as part of Serco’s supply chain in South Yorkshire. We work with the long-term unemployed and those with disabilities to support them into sustainable employment. Prior to that I was an Advisor with the Jobcentre for a number of years. To date on the Work Programme The Source Skils Academy has supported 1150 people into work.

What do you see as the biggest issues facing the employability sector?

There has been a reduction in the number of vocational courses people can access to support them into employment. There is also more support needed for customers aged 25 and over, especially for those with difficulties with English as a second language.

What do you think the employability sector is going really well?

From my experience the sector has greater success at getting 18 – 24 year olds into sustainable jobs through the extra support available such as Apprenticeships and Traineeships. I also think that the sector has adapted well to the changing labour market, where we are now engaging with those with greater barriers to employment than before. 

What do you think would improve the work of frontline staff?

Continued investment in supporting frontline Advisers in better understanding mental health issues and how to support customers with these needs into sustainable employment. 

What key piece of advice would you give to Employability Advisers?

Don’t write anyone off and listen to your customers.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Make sure you have a good team.



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Employability People

Posted By Heather Ette, 27 July 2017
Updated: 19 July 2017

Name: Chris Moore

Job title: Chief Executive

Organisation: The Clink Charity and Restaurants

What is it you do?

The Clink Charity provides a credible solution to the major skills shortage the UK’s hospitality and catering industry is currently experiencing, as well as reducing reoffending rates of ex-offenders through the delivery of accredited hospitality training and work experience.

The Clink Restaurants – HMP High Down, HMP Brixton, HMP Cardiff, HMP Styal – train serving prisoners in their last 6 to 18 months of their sentence to work towards gaining their City & Guilds Level 2 NVQs in Food Preparation and Cookery, Food and Beverage Service and Food Hygiene. The training schemes also improve soft skills by encouraging team work and building on each trainee’s confidence, self-esteem and work ethic within a high-pressured restaurant environment.

The Clink delivers a five-step integrated programme and, upon completion of their training and once they are released, our support workers help graduates gain employment and accommodation as part of their reintegration back into society. Clink support workers are there 24/7 for at least 12 months to provide the vital support needed to break the cycle of crime.

There are 84,648 adults in prison in England and Wales. Of those released, sadly 44% go back to prison within the first year of release and this rises to 59% for those serving sentences of 12 months or less. The Justice Data Lab report released in November 2016 by the Ministry of Justice highlights that prisoners completing The Clink Charity training programme are 41% less likely to reoffend than someone of a similar situation within the prison system who hasn’t benefited from the support.

What do you see as the biggest issues facing the employability sector?

There are over 90,000 job vacancies currently available in the UK hospitality and catering industry. The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has warned that hospitality businesses could be left with a labour shortfall of one million workers within 10 years if migration is restricted after the UK leaves the EU. With this in mind, along with the skills shortage already identified in the sector, we need to be looking at underrepresented sectors of society as a source of talent, given the right guidance.

What do you think the employability sector is doing really well?

The hospitality industry is one of the fastest growing sectors and the fourth largest employer in the UK with 4.49 million people working in hospitality and tourism jobs. The industry is very open to employing people with transferrable skills from other sectors and is good at recognising potential in people that may be at a social disadvantage. The Clink Charity now works with over 280 employers who are all willing to take on Clink graduates, subject to a satisfactory interview, as they can see the potential and benefit of employing someone who has been trained to such a high standard.

What do you think would improve the work of frontline staff?

Training and education is key. The Clink Restaurants are primarily catering colleges that deliver accredited City & Guilds training. A recent Ofsted inspection of one Clink Restaurant highlighted that “The Clink continued to be an impressive training area” that is delivering 40 hours of training and work experience to each prisoner learner every week, 47 weeks of the year. They are classically trained from the bottom up and are used to preparing fresh, raw ingredients. Fish has to be hand-filleted, meat skilfully butchered and vegetables meticulously prepped. The trainee chefs are taught to make every stock, soup, sauce, pasta and ice cream served in the restaurants from scratch. As so many basic skills are being lost from the convenience of pre-prepared produce and we want our graduates to continue their careers in hospitality with a sound culinary foundation. This way our graduates are in the best position once released to work in a variety of environments from a high-end Michelin star restaurant to high street chains or contract caterers.

What key piece of advice would you give to Employability Advisers?

Be open minded. We’ve all made mistakes in life and it’s easier than you might think to find yourself on the wrong path in life. The Clink’s approach to prisoner rehabilitation changes public attitudes, transforms lives and creates second chances for those who want, need and deserve a second chance.

What is the best piece of advice you've been given?

“Do it once and do it properly” – Mohamed Al Fayed.

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ERSA's Adviser of the Year 2017

Posted By Heather Ette, 14 July 2017
Updated: 14 July 2017

ERSA's Adviser of the Year awarded for helping to transform people's lives

Prisoners Abroad is a humanitarian charity providing welfare and emotional support to people affected by overseas imprisonment.

For many people, release and deportation after imprisonment abroad is the beginning of an immense and unique challenge. Prisoners Abroad’s Resettlement Service supports this marginalised group by providing wraparound services: housing; emergency provisions; one-to-one support; and help finding employment.

As a member of the Resettlement Team, Adrian Bailey initiated, developed and now delivers the Work Preparation Programme (WPP) which started over five years ago.

The Work Preparation Programme supports ex-prisoners returning from abroad. The overarching aim is for individuals to gain an understanding of the UK job market and to identify how their skills, qualifications and employment history can be transferable. The programme supports people through a difficult transition period to become part of society again, by providing them with the tools required to secure a livelihood.

Adrian plays a huge role in transforming people’s lives, which is why he has won the ERSA Adviser of the Year Award 2017 – a fantastic achievement which Prisoners Abroad are immensely proud of him for. His work has been recognised as a crucial part of people’s successful reintegration into society, upon their return to the UK. His leadership style and commitment to helping participants of the WPP is inspirational; he helps people overcome the trauma and lack of confidence caused by their experiences in prison abroad and deportation. Adrian is constantly seeking to remind people of the skills they possess and how to enhance employment opportunities at every stage of their resettlement.

“The process of being deported and being a prisoner is so traumatic – it can feel like you are being removed from your kin, it removes you from all of what you were from the very beginning. You find yourself thinking that perhaps you aren’t entitled to the things that everyone else is entitled to.” says Adrian. “People can easily slip into despair and depression as a result. My ambition is to prevent people reaching that point.”

People returning from abroad after imprisonment often have limited knowledge of the UK job market, are unaware of what a UK CV looks like, have low computer literacy and are no longer familiar with British culture or workplaces. Adrian designed the programme to fulfil these complex needs.

“It’s important for people to have positive influences so they have a brighter outlook on their future here, and so that they don’t feel worthless,” Adrian continues. “If I can be there to shout from one corner of the room, and guide people by giving them a sense of direction, then I’ll be there.”

The programme has come a long way since it was started; 193 people have taken part and 55 people have gained employment. It has developed from Adrian volunteering his time originally, to now operating two days a week including tailored one-to-one sessions, and even offering telephone advice and support to those residing outside London.

Not only does Adrian use his expertise for the Work Preparation Programme but also to support the wider organisation at Prisoners Abroad. He has delivered speeches at fundraising events and participated in a human rights video to promote the organisation and raise awareness of conditions faced by people imprisoned abroad. Adrian also looks for other opportunities to strengthen his support of ex-prisoners into employment – he co-facilitates monthly Resettlement Support Groups (peer-to-peer support) to understand what some of the main challenges are, which help him to tailor and refresh/update the programme.

We are always keen to talk about potential partnerships with organisations that want to get involved with employment opportunities for the people we help. If you are interested in supporting ex-offenders into work, or sharing your expertise at one of our group sessions, please contact for more information.

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Ambassadors for inclusion

Posted By IEP and Remploy, 14 July 2017
Updated: 13 July 2017

How to be Disability Confident

The session run by Remploy and the Institute of Employment Professionals at the IntoWork Convention, titled ‘Ambassadors for Inclusion’ was a chance for Remploy and the IEP to showcase the exciting work we are doing together. We think the Ambassadors programme that we are building will make a real difference, by promoting positive messages about disability and work, and giving a powerful voice to disabled people.

Two disability Ambassadors, Tony Collins and Anna Wharfe, presented on the subject of their own experience in managing a disability or health condition at work, and the adjustments that have worked for them. They also spoke about the support they can provide to employers wanting to improve their disability confidence, as part of the Government’s Disability Confident scheme.

Anna Wharfe is a Mental Health Ambassador. She told the session that she lives with anxiety, and that she developed this mental health condition in work, shortly after she started in her role at Remploy. Her line manager has been very supportive, and one of the adjustments which has helped is her ‘invisible panic button’ where she lets her manager know that she is unable to work on a particular day, and will make up the time on her non-working day. This means Anna knows she’s not letting her employer down if she ever feels unable to work.

Anna also talked about imposter syndrome, something which she feels is a more serious condition than many people recognise. She spoke about feeling like a ‘council house kid from Oldham’ who couldn’t possibly be good enough for the job she was in, or the challenges that her job required her to step up to. This feeling was so intense that it heightened her anxiety. She thinks it might help if we were encouraged to be more open about our feelings of inadequacy, instead of always putting on a brave face at work.

Tony Collins is a Learning Disability Ambassador. Tony spoke about how important work is to him, and how determined he is never to live on benefits. He has been in work all of his adult life, but his first two jobs – before the introduction of the Minimum Wage – were not paid monetarily. Tony’s first job was for a leisure centre where he was ‘paid’ in tokens from the lockers. In his next role, at a clothes shop, he was ‘paid’ in coat hangers. Tony asked the session why they thought he had been paid in that way.

Tony told us that he thought the most important adjustment he had received was a working interview, on applying for his job with Remploy. He was given the chance to show what he could do, over the course of a few weeks, rather than having a formal interview, which would have played to his weaknesses. He also spoke about the importance of a trained job coach, who supports him with the parts of his job that he finds harder to manage.

Tony concluded, “working makes me feel included, a true citizen, like other people.”

Scott Parkin, IEP Chair said: “Anna and Tony did a fantastic job.  Opening up about their own experiences gave us a true picture of what is actually happening in the real world and an invaluable insight into ways employers can make a difference.

This is a great initiative and one that IEP are proud to support with training, development and opportunities to gain experience presenting and networking. What could be better than employers hearing what they need to do, often much less than they initially think, to make their recruitment processes and operational environment truly available and accessible for people with disabilities; learning from people who really know.

We expect that this will become, under the Disability Confident banner, the blueprint for the future and encourage all employers in our industry to take a look at what this can deliver for you and achieve for your entire workforce.”

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Employability People

Posted By Heather Ette, 23 June 2017
Updated: 21 June 2017

The IEP is delighted to announce the Fellowship of Kevin Browne FIEP

 Kevin has over 30 years’ experience in the employment services sector, ranging from front-line advisory roles through to board level leadership, encompassing a broad range of business development, operational management, commercial and consultancy disciplines. 

He started working in the public sector with the Employment Services and then joined Reed in Partnership when the first welfare to work services were being outsourced to the private sector helping them become one of the largest providers, enabling over 100,000 people to secure employment. He then moved to Ingeus, leading their international growth in the Middle East and Europe. He has significant experience of working with diverse stakeholders, from government ministers, chief executives and directors of large corporations through to third sector niche organisations and has a track record of leading and building high performing businesses in global markets, including the UK, Middle East, Europe and Australia.

 He is currently the Managing Director of Optimize Now, a business he started in 2016 that brings together a number of specialist consultancies in different markets, delivering a range of positive outcomes for organisations, underpinned by the same ethos and goal, “to build capability and capacity in organisations to make a real difference to themselves, their families, communities and nations”.

On becoming a Fellow of the Institute of Employability Professionals (IEP), Kevin comments "To be accepted as a Fellow is something I am very proud to have achieved. I have worked in the industry for many years and I am passionate about the services that the industry brings to clients, particularly those who are the most vulnerable.  I’ve been fortunate to have experienced many advantages that working in the industry has given to me, particularly working on a global stage and to be in a position to share this knowledge and experience with people in other countries to build capability and capacity in indigenous teams that has enabled them to make a difference to those most in need. 

 As we move through Brexit and the trade negotiations that are central to it, it is much more important that we provide a service to businesses and demonstrate the support we can offer to develop their goals in the UK. The heart of the employability industry is in providing a truly professional service and it is important to me that we are seen to provide services to businesses as well as to clients.  We are much better now at professionalising our people and helping them to build relationships with employers and these relationships are much stronger now than in the past.  

The industry has moved forward significantly and the establishment of the IEP has allowed the industry to provide a greater range of services and to be accepted by business much more as a true partner helping them to achieve their goals whether through apprenticeship skills, recruitment or talent development.

My experience of delivering services in different countries has enabled me to see that there is a real requirement for capability and capacity building of both individuals and organisations in the sector to meet the continual challenge and change of global markets, and providing services within business themselves.  I look forward to working with the IEP to help them build capacity amongst provider staff and to take to employers a broader service offer. I hope my network of companies that work with Optimize can help the IPP to develop new thoughts, ideas and innovative solutions for the sector.

I strongly believe that the voluntary charity sector has a crucial role to play in the industry, particularly in engaging vulnerable clients and I would like to spend some of my time working with those organisations providing capacity building support to allow them to deliver even stronger services, take that learning and share it with other voluntary organisations as well.

I would also like to be involved in looking at how the IEP can more robustly measure its value and impact and help promote the IEP to employers as a broader solution for their development and future growth.  

In the current climate, talent is being developed and lost because of contracting models and at a time when the industry is going through a lot of change and faces greater demands around health, justice and skills it is important to look at how we can ensure the talent base becomes more versatile to work across a broader range of sectors and become an exemplar of what we do.

Speaking of Kevin's Fellowship IEP Chairman Scott Parkin FIEP said "Kevin's experience in countries around the world will be a tremendous help to the IEP in delivering insight into how we can develop frontline staff to work across a broader range of sectors.  We look forward to taking Kevin's ideas forward and learn more about building capacity so that we can better support staff, clients and employers together".


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