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Employability People

Posted By Heather Ette, 09 October 2019

Chairs appointed to network to give disabled people stronger voice

The Office for Disability Issues has announced the appointment of chairs to lead 9 new Regional Stakeholder Networks and we are delighted that IEP Fellow Samantha Everard FIEP will be representing the South West Network.

The Regional chairs will move forward work to break down the barriers disabled people and their families face in everyday life.

The appointees will lead 9 new Regional Stakeholder Networks tasked with amplifying the voices of disabled people and disability organisations in regions across England, reporting back to government on a range of issues including transport, housing and employment.

The chairs of the network were selected based on their understanding of disability issues specific to their regions, their expertise in disability policy and its effects at the grassroots level.

Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson said: “If we are truly to break down the barriers faced by disabled people in everyday life, it’s vital that we listen to their views.

All the chairs have a wealth of experience, expertise and skills which qualify them for these crucial roles. I am delighted at the calibre of the successful candidates and looking forward to working with the Regional Stakeholder Network to drive change and improve the lives of disabled people across the country.

Many of the 8 chairs are disabled people, while others work in disabled people’s organisations or organisations that support disabled people. Several hold other roles in a voluntary capacity which will help them tap into the issues and concerns of their local networks.”

The chairs will convene meetings with network members within their regions and work with the government’s Office for Disability Issues to help inform future policy.

The Network chairs are:

East of England: Naomi Tomkys OBE, CEO, Sky Badger

Greater London: Ruth Owen OBE, CEO, Whizz-Kidz

North East: Michael Potts, Board Member, Veterans Advisory and Pension Committee

North West: Lynne Turnbull, CEO, Cheshire Centre for Independent Living

South East: Barry Ginley, Director, Tamstone Consulting Ltd

South West: Samantha Everard, CEO, Support and Mentoring Enabling Entrepreneurship (SAMEE)

West and East Midlands: Louise Mckiernan, CEO, Birmingham Disability Resource Centre

Yorkshire and the Humber: Liz Leach Murphy, Founder/Managing Director, Imagineer CIC


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Employability People

Posted By Heather Ette, 02 January 2019

New Year’s Honours for the Employability and Skills Sectors

By Carley Consult

The 2019 New Year’s Honours List has seen a broad number of industry figures recognised from the employability and vocational skills sectors. Amongst those recognised is Lynsi Hayward-Smith, Trustee at the Education & Training Foundation, who received a CBE for services to Further Education.
Dr Neil Bentley, Chief Executive for WorldSkills UK receives an OBE, as does Barry Liles, the Welsh Government’s Skills Champion for Wales, and former Chief Executive of Coleg Sir Gâr. David Newborough, Non-Executive Director of Energy & Utility Skills and the Independent Chair of the National Skills Academy for Power, also receives an OBE.
Several Further Education College Principals and Chief Executives also received OBEs, including Karen Redhead (Derwentside College), Karen Dobson (Newcastle & Stafford College Group), Nigel Duncan (Fareham College) and Annette Bruton (Edinburgh College).
Joanna Hunter, Co-Founder of Smart Works. a charity which provides high quality interview clothes and interview training to unemployed women in need, receives an OBE. Anthony Osmond, previously a Non-Executive Director at the Disabled People’s Employment Corporation (the former DWP arms-length body which managed the residual assets and liabilities of Remploy) also receives an OBE.
David Hughes, Chair of The East Midlands Apprenticeship Ambassador Network receives an MBE, as does Angela Middleton, Founder and Chief Executive of the Middleton Murray Group, an independent training provider. Paul Griffiths, Chairman of Industrial & Marine Hydraulics (IMH) receives an MBE for services to engineering skills and apprenticeships on Teesside, whilst Claire Paul, Director of Leadership Development at the BBC, also receives an MBE for services to apprenticeships.
Several grass roots practitioners were also recognised on the list. Lyril Rawlins, Disability Employment Advisor and Coach at Selly Oak Jobcentre Plus receives an MBE. Fiona Bailey, a Troubled Families Employment Adviser at DWP also received an MBE.

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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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