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From the Top
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'From the Top' is the place to find news, information and expertise from the key influencers at IEP. Entries are from members of the Board, Executive Team or Fellows.


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Welcome to Opportunity Sheffield

Posted By Heather Ette, 19 April 2018

Opportunity Sheffield joins IEP as Corporate Affiliate Partner

Opportunity Sheffield, the employment and skills service operated by Sheffield City Council, has joined the IEP as Corporate Affiliate Partners.

Part of the local authority's People portfolio, the broad-ranging service encompasses all Council activity to support local people into employment, training, traineeships and apprenticeships within the city. Through a range of programmes and initiatives, Opportunity Sheffield acts to break down barriers into work for disadvantaged individuals, including those with disabilities, physical or mental health issues, skills deficits and a lack of work experience.

A winner of the inaugural Regional and a nominee for the National AAC Apprenticeships Awards in 2018, Opportunity Sheffield generates and supports at least 100 new apprenticeships every year. The service's Skills Made Easy programme engages local employers, assists them in navigating the skills system, and encourages the creation of new apprenticeship opportunities. Through the Sheffield 100 programme, financial incentives are available for employers who recruit vulnerable/disadvantaged 16-18-year-olds who would be unlikely to secure an apprenticeship by other means.

Working alongside local delivery partners from the voluntary, community and private sectors, Opportunity Sheffield seeks to connect economically-inactive people with suitable employers. By assisting companies with their recruitment and workforce development, the service works to boost business productivity, facilitate growth and strengthen the local economy. It provides tailored, dedicated support to specialist contractors across the city to secure the delivery of employability objectives while ensuring compliance within the Opportunity Sheffield supply chain.

Eve Waite, Head of Employment and Skills, Sheffield City Council said "We are delighted to become a Corporate Affiliate Partner of the IEP. Through our experience of helping disadvantaged individuals into - or back into - the workplace and creating new opportunities for local businesses, we recognise the benefits of working alongside partners who share our ethos. As an organisation that understands and promotes the value of enhanced employability, the IEP has an important role to play in driving the agenda."

IEP Chairman Scott Parkin FIEP said "I am delighted to welcome Opportunity Sheffield as Corporate Affiliate Partners. Not only are they supporting those individuals that work directly for Opportunity Sheffield but also all of those amazing organisations that work alongside Sheffield City Council too to help develop their community by providing opportunities to improve their employability skills and, ultimately, their life chances."

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Employability Trailblazer

Posted By Heather Ette, 19 April 2018
Updated: 09 April 2018

Lead Employability Practitioner Standard Gets Go Ahead

We are pleased to announce that due to the hard work and tenacity of the Employability Trailblazer Employer Group (ETEG) we have now secured the approval to go ahead and develop the Level 4 Lead Employability Practitioner Apprenticeship standard.

The Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) has published the status of the Standard as "In development" on their website, a link to which you can view here 

The journey to this point began in March 2017 and is a culmination of a great amount of discussion debate and collaboration with colleagues in the ETEG. At the heart of the discussion has been our collective passion to develop a standard that is meaningful and that fits the changing landscape of the employability profession in light of the Work and Health Programme and the future needs of a new type of Employability Practitioner.

IEP Chairman Scott Parkin FIEP said "Reaching this stage is a huge achievement and one I am particularly proud of. The process of developing this standard has been a challenge at times but it has also been extremely rewarding. To be able to work with so many professionals and experts to create something that will deliver the right future skills for Practitioners has been so fulfilling. We are developing the opportunity for career progression in a wider employability and skills landscape that will provide many more benefits for our Practitioners and their customers. This is at the very heart of what the IEP exists to do and I am grateful to have been involved in the journey so far".

Gemma Bramley, Education Development Trust said " [leave space for quote]

The next stage in the development of this standard is the approval of the Assessment Plan and the provision of a Funding Band. We will keep you up to date with developments in the Standard and our plans for roll out of the Employability Practitioner Standard as it unfolds but in the meantime if you would like to get involved and contribute to the development of this standard please do contact either myself at or Claire Illingworth at

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100th Anniversary edition

Posted By Heather Ette, 17 April 2018

Happy 100th Anniversary EP!

Employability Professional, the IEP's dedicated weekly e-bulletin has reached its 100th edition!

Here's what some of our avid readers had to say:


"The EP is an email I really look forward to at the start of my week. I especially look forward to the Biography's and the thought pieces from both practitioners and influences in the industry; it's great to learn about the different people and their roles and how they are developing our sector"
Stewart Holdsworth MIEP, Serco


"Employability Professional is a great way to keep up to date with what is happening in the industry"
Simon Guy, The Source


"The EP is like a bar of chocolate: A treat to look forward to at the start of your week - choc full of tasty little Top 10s!"
Chris Nuttall MIEP, Wise Ability


Happy Birthday EP. Bite-sized information every week keeps me in touch with what matters in our profession. Keep up the good work.
Pat Russell, MIEP and Independent Consultant


The EP is a constantly useful, insightful and interesting publication, that is a fantastic resource for anyone involved in the Employability arena. I have frequently picked up on interesting news stories and useful intelligence from the content, and it is a great way of keeping up to speed on what is going on in the sector. Additionally, the links contained in the newsletter act as a fantastic gateway to the wider suite of information, job opportunities and other details that are all available through the IEP.

Here's to another 100!
Ayden Sims MIEP, Director of Business Development, Remploy

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IEP Fellows

Posted By Heather Ette, 09 April 2018

Welcome to our new Fellow Samantha Everard FIEP

The IEP are delighted to announce that Samantha Everard is the latest employability professional to become an IEP Fellow.

Sam has a wealth of experience in employability. She set up the SAMEE Charity in 2015 which has two areas of focus - to provide self-employment skills workshops for children of school age, and secondly, The SAMEE Project, which stands for Supporting and Mentoring Enabling Entrepreneurship, which provides business start-up support for disadvantaged and disabled people and guiding them into self-employment and/or traditional employment.

Sam has spent a lot of her life volunteering for the Prince's Trust and working for both WSX Enterprise and Pinnacle where she saw first-hand how unemployed people struggle with their lives. She has extensive experience in Progression and Mentoring and in Skills and Learning which she has utilised in her charity, enabling people to explore their options; those with a disability that want to ensure they are safe and won't lose all their benefits and those with a talent, skill or hobby that they want to explore as a business idea. SAMEE works with these people, handholding, nurturing and supporting them with personal survival budgeting, timetabling their days to make sure they can earn enough on the hours they are able to work. Sam is particularly proud of the people she works with and the charity has a specific project that supports disabled entrepreneurs with dedicated resources for their use, making their service fully accessible, for example, she has just received a business plan in play dough!

Sam has worked hard to build the foundations for the SAMEE Charity and it is now a Disability Confident Level 3 Leader, has ESFA membership, is an IOEE and SFEDI Academy and is registered as a UK recognised Training Provider.

Outside of her main role Sam is a 'My Guide for Guide Dogs', volunteer for Bournemouth Blind, a volunteer for RNIB, she offers assistance to Deaf Plus and other charitable activities. She is also an Executive Officer for Bournemouth Chamber which allows her to work with local Government and a number of SME's, allowing her to engage with the community and network with people that may need her help or that of someone she knows.

Speaking about her Fellowship, Sam said "I would like to work as the IEP Southern representative as I can see a lot of potential cohesion between all the Members. If one agency cannot help someone, then wouldn't it be great if they can refer within our network to someone that can. I would like to see a skills audit across the Membership so everyone gets the advice and guidance they need to move forward in their lives, and we need to ensure that our Institute is able to offer a wide variety of supporting roles across the Southern region. It is also extremely important that we promote best practice and keep up to date with the latest information that clients need like advice on benefits for example. I want to see our Southern network acting as a joined up community that refers from within and ensures our clients get the information, advice and guidance they need to move forward in their lives.

"I am currently working on some new innovative ideas to encourage people to work with us and have now got both a level 4 and level 6 IAG Careers Advisers on my team. We also have disabled volunteers, who are amazing and offer such fabulous work, and have already lost 3 volunteers to full-time work due to the advocacy and references we have offered. I want to continue making significant changes to people's lives and to encourage self-esteem and growth. It is vital that we continue our work and as a Fellow of the IEP, I will continually strive to make this a reality."

Scott Parkin FIEP said "Sam is truly inspiring. She has dedicated herself to supporting the most vulnerable people in society and in making a difference to their lives. Having Sam on board as a Fellow of the IEP will bring huge benefits to our Membership, not only due to the enormous amount of experience and knowledge she brings but in her enthusiasm, commitment and dedication to the aims of the profession as a whole. We are delighted to have her as our latest Fellow and we look forward to working with her in furthering the IEP's vision."

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IEP Fellows

Posted By Heather Ette, 08 April 2018
Updated: 28 March 2018

Welcome Jayne Garner FIEP, our new Fellow

The IEP are delighted to announce that Ingeus’ Jayne Garner has become the Institute’s latest Fellow. 

Jayne has a wealth of experience in Employment Related Services built over 15 years and spanning Skills, Outreach and Employability. She has worked directly with a range of Commissioners, from DWP, Local Commissioners, SFA and ESF funding streams and managed a number of Ingeus sites across the North West of England.

In line with the IEP’s ethos of promoting the importance of continuous professional development, Jayne has undertaken additional qualifications to support her career such as CIPD and Leadership and Management Level 4. She has also been identified as a mentor and coach to other managers on the Work Programme delivery and has championed staff for future management roles, supporting them to apply for accredited management training and progressing them through to completion with the aid of coaching. 

Jayne said “My motivation is very much about providing services to support disadvantaged people. The Greater Manchester Working Well provision, of which I am Head of Delivery, is a challenging programme which supports long-term unemployed people with health conditions and complex barriers to move towards and gain sustainable work. I believe there is work for everyone and for those who may not achieve this goal during the time on the programme, Working Well must provide a positive impact to the wellbeing and lifestyle for the people who take part.”

Jayne has undertaken a number of activities outside of her normal role. In November 2016 she was awarded a Silver Stevie Award (Women in Business- Employee of the Year category) for the work that her and her team contributed to Greater Manchester and the success of Working Well. She has supported the other Working Well providers and competitors in practical delivery, resulting in streamlining processes and resulting in a joint approach to performance reporting.

On becoming an IEP Fellow Jayne said “We have made a series of commitments for our InWorkGM team including recording 33000 hours of CPD and 875 volunteer days to invest in their development.  This is one of our Social Value commitments across the Alliance Partnership. I am delighted to promote IEP’s vision and values as a fully-fledged Fellow of the Institute.  I believe our people are our most valuable resource and that they require support and investment to operate successfully in future programmes. Our staff teams are about to secure their individual IEP membership through Ingeus, and I hope to champion the resources and the sharing of best practice by encouraging full use of this membership.”

IEP Chairman Scott Parkin FIEP said “Jayne has considerable experience in the profession and brings many skills that will benefit our membership in many ways.  On behalf of the IEP, I am delighted to welcome Jayne to the Fellowship and we look forward to utilising her extensive knowledge and experience to further the IEP’s aims and objectives.”

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From The Top

Posted By Heather Ette, 22 March 2018

IEP Board Update

Building on the success of last year, the IEP Board, the elected body that leads the IEP on behalf of its Members, have agreed new strategic objectives for 2018 to deliver further improvements and strengthen our offer to our Membership and our Partners.

We were pleased to report on our achievements at last year's AGM and in our Progress Report and have continued to make further progress this year against all of our agreed objectives.

IEP Objectives - 2018

1. Governance Processes

To create clearly defined processes enabling the board to have oversight of progress against strategic and operational objectives, and to comply with legal and constitutional requirements.

2. Individual Offer

To identify, define and communicate our membership offer to individuals.

To include:

  • Redesign and relaunch of the IEP website to enhance and improve the way we communicate and promote our messages.
  • A targeted 'what works" campaign involving the IEP Membership.
  • Networking sessions, regional network meetings and continued Fellows events and dinners.

3. Stakeholder Strategy

To identify, prioritise and influence key stakeholders to maintain and expand relationships and opportunities for growth.

To include:

  • Developing a system of more proactive engagement around policy and strategic aims and objectives. Maintaining and developing IEP's presence and profile and increasing brand recognition.
  • Wider engagement and involvement with Corporate Affiliate Partners to establish partnership opportunities.

4. Financial Strategy

To identify opportunities that facilitate organisational investment and enable growth consistent with our vision and values.

5. Trailblazer

To ensure the quality, rigour and scope of the standard and enable the development of commercial opportunities for the IEP.

To include:

  • To make sure that the process of engagement and delivery is robust." Agree a clear plan for early influence and engagement to deliver realistic opportunity.
  • Continue to look for the wider engagement with the standard.

6. Communication Strategy

To embed an effective communications strategy that underpins all strategic objectives.

To include:

  • Continuing to enhance content through the IEP's weekly newsletter, 'EP'.
  • Developing and delivering a wider social media strategy.
  • Developing a Communications, marketing and PR strategy.

Portfolio Leads

We have developed new areas of responsibility for our Board Members in order that they can be responsible for furthering their own designated area of work with regards to the IEP. Each new designated area has been awarded a 'Portfolio Lead' to bring focus and direction to the most strategic objectives for the IEP.

Our Portfolio Leads are as follows:

Regional Networks - Stewart Holdsworth MIEP

Stakeholder Engagement - Keith Faulkner CBE FIEP

JCP / Local Authority Pilots and Engagement - Pat Russell MIEP

Grants, Bids and International Development - Ayden Sims MIEP

Finance and Audit - Dan Wright MIEP

Process and Mapping - Deborah Tillet FIEP

Trailblazer - Scott Parkin FIEP

Individual Membership Offer - Zoe Bradwick MIEP and Rebecca Keating MIEP

Corporate Affiliate Partner and Strategic Partner Offer - Rhys Toone FIEP

UK Business Development - Mary Cripps-Warwick FIEP

Marketing, PR and Communications - Teresa Scott OBE FIEP

Joint Portfolio Lead for Individual Membership Offer, Zoe Bradwick MIEP said "The importance of having a compelling individual offer that genuinely responds to the needs of both our existing and future frontline staff is clear and I believe that myself and Rebecca are well positioned to achieve this. We both have a real passion to put the individual at the heart of the IEP and ensure that our individual Membership offer meets their needs"

Ayden Sims MIEP, Portfolio Lead for Grants, Bids and International Development said "The new 'Portfolio' approach being undertaken by the IEP Board ensures that key areas of interest for us are afforded the appropriate level of effort and attention, whilst also maximising the unique skills and capabilities of each of the Board Members.

"The IEP is keen to continue to grow, enabling us to engage ever increasing numbers of organisations and employability professionals, who are delivering services across a range of sectors both in the UK and further afield. One of the main ways of doing this is to look at opportunities to secure new business through bidding for new work that enhances our core mission, through grants, research opportunities and expansion into new markets.

"As I have a Business Development background, I have taken the lead on the 'Grants, Bids and International Development' portfolio, with my aim being to identify new opportunities for the IEP and achieve the growth we aspire to. I feel this is a really exciting development for the IEP and am looking forward to working with my fellow Board Members and wider Membership to develop this portfolio agenda."

IEP Chairman Scott Parkin FIEP said "There is much work to do but I am convinced that with the IEP Board's support we will build on the success of last year and deliver an IEP that encompasses the needs of all the people that we reach. I am grateful to all of the Board Members, particularly those who have taken on the new Portfolio Lead roles, for their continued time and commitment. The work involved in supporting the IEP is not insignificant and all of the Board Members offer their time for free, on top of their day jobs.

"I very much look forward to working with our Members, the IEP Board and our Corporate Affiliate and Strategic Partners to plan the delivery of these objectives and continuing to improve your IEP".

There are many ways in which you can get directly involved in the work of the IEP. If you want to contribute or just want more information please contact

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ERSA News Alert

Posted By Heather Ette, 07 March 2018

£1.5M Government Fund to support people returning to work after caring

News Alert from ERSA

  • Fund will help parents and carers return to work in the private sector after time out for caring responsibilities
  • Existing schemes in the public sector bring returners back to vital public service professions such as healthcare and social work
  • Amber Rudd: “Truly striking” that nearly 9 out of 10 people out of paid work because of caring duties are women

Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Amber Rudd has announced a £1.5m fund to support people back into work after time out caring.

The fund, which launched on Monday 5 March, will offer grants to projects which help people to return to work in the private sector.  

These projects could help returners update their skills, provide other training, or support businesses to increase employment opportunities for returners.   The fund will prioritise projects that focus on small and medium enterprises, employers outside London, and projects that support returners at all skill levels.  

This is part of a commitment of £5m made by the Prime Minister in the 2017 Spring Budget to help people back into employment after a career break.  

Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, Amber Rudd, said:  

“It is truly striking that nearly 90 per cent of people out of paid work because they are caring for the home or family are women.  

“Too often people struggle to get back into paid work after taking time out to care for others. That is a huge loss not only to those individuals, but to our economy and to businesses all over the country.  

“That’s why I’m delighted to announce this Government will be launching a £1.5m fund to support people, particularly women, back into work after time out looking after children and other relatives.  

“By offering meaningful work that pays, the fund will give people who want to return to employment the opportunity to use their valuable skills, talents and experience.”  

Returner programmes also help private companies, allowing them to benefit from returners’ expertise, as well as reducing training costs by hiring experienced individuals who often only need a small amount of support to update their skills.  

A toolkit and guidance have been created to support companies that would like to employ returners. The guidance, which was developed by Timewise and Women Returners, is aimed at employers across sectors and of all sizes. The toolkit, sponsored by Vodafone, explains the business benefits of employing returners.  

Vodafone UK General Counsel & External Affairs Director and member of the Women’s Business Council, Helen Lamprell, said:   

“Vodafone is proud to support Returners: A toolkit for employers. Having launched ReConnect – Vodafone’s programme to help both women and men return to work after a career break – we’ve seen first-hand the benefits of hiring returners, and the positive impact this can have on them, as well as on our business.    

“We are keen to share what we’ve learned, and to learn from other employers, so that we can all do more to support people back into work. With this toolkit, which contains best practices and clear advice on supporting returners, we hope to help even more employers develop returner programmes of their own.”

Find out more

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Fellows Dinner Review

Posted By Heather Ette, 01 March 2018

Diverse experience and knowledge leads to interesting discussion and debate at the Birmingham Fellows Dinner

The IEP held its sixth Fellows' Dinner last week, returning once again to Birmingham after previous Dinners in London and Manchester. Kindly supported by Steps to Work and hosted by Patrick Hughes FIEP the event was heralded as another successful evening full of lively debate and providing an ideal opportunity to openly discuss the key issues facing our profession today and to set the direction for its future. 

Here’s what some of the attendees said about the event:

Sharon Baker MIEP, Curriculum Manager, APM - “I really enjoyed my 2nd Fellows dinner.  There was a diverse wealth of knowledge in the room, with different perspectives on the topics discussed.  The event was chaired exceptionally well by Patrick where all guests had an opportunity to contribute and stretch and challenge each other’s opinions in a very courteous and respectful environment.  The discussion around resilience and integrity in the sector needs to be showcased as something the sector takes pride in, amidst all of the challenges organisations face, and there were an abundance of examples.  When the Chairman of the IEP chooses to spend his birthday with colleagues and Fellows, it speaks volumes as to the virtues of the IEP.  I have learnt so much from the guests and I feel very privileged to have been invited.” 

Ayden Sims MIEP, Director of Business Development, Remploy - "Another thoroughly enjoyable evening, providing some thoughtful and informative discussion with a mix of people from varying backgrounds, experience and positions within their respective organisations.  It was a great opportunity to share views on the sector with others operating in the same space, as well as get the thoughts of those at the event who worked outside of the sector, and how their experiences might provide a fresh take on what we do."

James Walsh FIEP, Chief Executive Officer, Steps to Work - “The Fellows dinner was a great way for me to show two of my Board Trustees the talent and passion within our sector and for them to better understand the challenges we face.  They were impressed with the amount of experience and passion around the table as well as the superb surroundings and food.”


If you are thinking about becoming a Fellow of the IEP why not come along and meet a few of them at one of our future events, you would be very welcome. 

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From the Top

Posted By Heather Ette, 07 February 2018

matrix Join the Employability Trailblazer Group

The IEP are delighted to announce that Assessment Services Ltd who manage the assessment process for both the matrix Standard and the Merlin Standard have joined the Employability Trailblazer Employer Group to assist in the process of developing the new standards for Employability Practitioners and Lead Employability Practitioners within the Apprenticeship Trailblazer.

Assessment Services Ltd is an international company with over 20 years of experience in assessment and accreditation, assessing a range of standards in different industry sectors. They will be joining the Trailblazer Employer Group in an advisory capacity to help provide guidance that will assist in the assessment process and help to ensure the group deliver quality standards that will improve standards in the employability sector.

Kathy Leahy, matrix Standard Contract Manager (pictured above) said “The importance of having competent staff is absolutely integral to the delivery of high quality information, advice and guidance, whether in employability or any other area. We welcome the development of recognised standards in the employability sector and look forward to working with the IEP and the Employability Trailblazer Employer Group towards this aim”.

IEP Chairman Scott Parkin FIEP said “The matrix Standard is a unique quality standard for organisations to assess and measure their advice and support services, which ultimately supports people in their choice of career, learning, work and life goals. As the Guardians of the matrix Standard, Assessment Services’ experience and knowledge will be hugely beneficial to the development of our new standards and we are really excited to have them on board.

“We are also committed to the sharing of knowledge and best practice across the sector and beyond and so we are providing access for the Merlin and Matrix Assessors to IEP information and services.

“The Expression of Interest for the new standards for Employability Practitioners and Lead Employability Practitioners was submitted to the Institute for Apprenticeships on the 16th January. They will now consider the submission with a response expected in early March 2018. The next steps following this will be to develop the final Standards, the Assessment Plan and to agree the End Point Assessment process so still much to do and to support with but much progress to date.”

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Employability Partners

Posted By Heather Ette, 03 February 2018

The Growth Company Join IEP as Corporate Affiliate Partners

The Growth Company is pleased to join IEP as a new Corporate Affiliate Partner.  Our new “In-Work GM” partnership is delivering Greater Manchester’s new devolved Work & Health Programme (Working Well) with Ingeus, as well as Pluss and Pathways CIC.  This means our workforce across the partnership will have access to the wider benefits of IEP Membership including access to IEP’s Knowledge Bank and discounted individual Membership.  We believe it signals the importance we collectively attach to the professional development of our employability staff – always our most important resource when it comes to impact on customers.  These benefits will also be available to the wider Growth Company workforce.  We also look forward to being a significant organisational voice within IEP, able to articulate and shape the views of the wider sector on workforce development.      

The Growth Company is a not-for-profit (company limited by guarantee) organisation that delivers employment, recruitment, CEAIG, skills, and business support services.  Headquartered in Greater Manchester we deliver services across the North of England. Our purpose is to Enable Growth, Create Jobs, and Improve Lives and the values that guide our service delivery are: Make a Positive Difference, Empower People, Stronger Together, Do the Right Thing and Build on Success.

Growth Company Employment delivers personalised vocational rehabilitation and employment support services that enable people with multiple, complex needs to improve their health and wellbeing, to build their employability and career competencies, and to find, secure and progress in meaningful work that pays.

Our current portfolio of employment related contracts includes:

  • Work and Health Programme
  • National Careers Service
  • ESF funded employment and skills contracts
  • Local authority/devolved employment and recruitment services,
  • Public Health and wellbeing services, including within substance misuse services
  • Services for offenders
  • Residual Work Programme and Work Choice contracts

We have developed a consistent methodology to drive quality and performance for participants with complex support needs. This includes:

  • Co-location with referral and delivery partners
  • A willingness to invest in and pilot new approaches to build our understanding of what works
  • Building effective relationships with local employers that deliver sustainable job opportunities, as well work placements and tasters
  • Work with volunteers to provide mentoring and peer to peer support
  • A high performing self-employment offer
  • Investment in an award winning social employment agency, Aspire, which focuses on rapid job placement and re-placement for participants in vulnerable sectors/occupations

The Growth Company is a Disability Confident Employer and holds Matrix, Investors in People, ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 accreditations.  In our most recent Ofsted inspection we achieved Grade 2 (National Careers Service).  An experienced Prime Contractor, we achieved Merlin Standard “Good” at our first assessment in 2017.

Having delivered employment related services since 2000, we expect to place our 100,000th customer into employment early in 2018.

IEP Chairman Scott Parkin FIEP said “On behalf of the IEP I am delighted to welcome The Growth Company as our new Corporate Affiliate Partner.  Their experience and expertise in improving the lives of those who are often furthest away from employment will be a huge benefit for our Members who can learn and share in their knowledge of how best to support people with complex needs.  We look forward to working with them over the coming months and years”.




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