National recognition for employability programme

June 2, 2010

A unique project helping people with disabilities and health conditions develop skills to find jobs has won a national award.

Swindon Borough Council’s Energy2Work project, which is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and supported by the Skills Funding Agency, was judged by NIACE (National Institute of Adult Continuing Education) to be the national winner of the ESF Opening Doors to Adult Learners award.

In recognition of the project’s outstanding contribution to learning its manager, Ann King, was presented with the award by TV and radio presenter, Philippa Forrester, and Vice Chair of ESF, Suzanne Morgan, at a special ceremony in London.

Energy2Work has a holistic and highly motivational approach to training aimed at helping disabled people find work and helping employers find employees they need with the right skills.

The 13-week programme aims to develop skills that employers look for, offers a recognised qualification, teaches team skills, helps learners take control of their lives and supports them in their search for a job. It includes an eight week work-placement, which gives an opportunity to put new skills into practice and can be included on a cv.

Ann said that the course has been so successful it has literally changed lives and feedback from employers involved with the project shows it is also changing attitudes.

Ann said: “Feedback from employers showed their surprise at the level of engagement and communication skills of the learners compared with other work experience placements they had supported. Most learners have taken the opportunity to take the qualification and the first eight people, including someone with Asperger’s syndrome, have jobs.”

Adrian Ayres, 21, who has Aspergers Syndrome, was one of the first trainees to join Energy2Work in August 2009. Adrian was helped to learn the ‘soft skills’ associated with work including communication, interaction and team skills.

As a result he has become interested in recycling and IT so a work placement was set up with a local company called FMW Recycling, owned by Helena Dunne. His role was to strip down computers. Helena had found this a difficult role to fill as it requires patience, focus and close attention to detail. Adrian very quickly showed that he has those skills and at the end of the eight-week placement Helena offered him a permanent job.

Helena was so impressed with Adrian’s commitment to work she went back to Ann and asked if she had any other suitable trainees. She was introduced to Josh Boulton, 20, who has Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. He had been through the same training as Adrian, had expressed an interest in working as a groundsman or in recycling and had completed his work placement in a local park. He was offered a trial job at FMW recycling.

Helena said: “I was very impressed with Josh and found him to be quiet, conscientious and hard-working. I offered him full time work and he accepted. He has been back to Energy2Work and increased his skills by gaining a fork-lift licence. He is one of FMW’s best employees demonstrating great work behaviours and ethics.”

Dr Paul Pettigrew, Head of Provider Accounts for the Skills Funding Agency, said: “These stories prove what an outstanding project Energy2Work is and the contribution it is making. The award will hopefully draw attention to the programme, attracting more people to take part and acting as a tool to encourage more employers to get onboard. I congratulate everyone involved.”

Leave a Reply


Reach tens of thousands of senior business people across Swindon & Wiltshire for just £70 a month. Email for more information.