Employers honoured for partnership work

EMPLOYERS around the East of England have been rewarded for helping disadvantaged jobseekers back into work. The awards, hosted by former The Apprentice winner Tim Campbell at Ickworth House, near Bury St Edmunds, recognised the outstanding contributions made by employers, employees and partners involved with Jobcentre Plus in Local Employment Partnerships (LEPs).

EMPLOYERS around the East of England have been rewarded for helping disadvantaged jobseekers back into work.

The awards, hosted by former The Apprentice winner Tim Campbell at Ickworth House, near Bury St Edmunds, recognised the outstanding contributions made by employers, employees and partners involved with Jobcentre Plus in Local Employment Partnerships (LEPs).

The winners will also be automatically entered for the National LEP Awards to be held on June 9 at 1 Whitehall Place in London.

Norwich-based facilities management firm Serco took the overall Outstanding LEP Achievement prize as well as the Commitment to Diversity award for its open-door recruitment policy, which sees it actively look to employ ex-offenders and ex-homeless people.

It has also worked closely with Jobcentre Plus and local groups to give permanent jobs to four people, and offer work trials to others.

Sustainability manager, Chris Paul, said: “The LEP fits in with our philosophy and ethos. It makes sense to get people into work and make the most of what they have to offer.”

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Other winners included Cineworld in Haverhill, The Entertainer, Ipswich, Reed in Partnership, also based in Ipswich, and Dale Thompson, a cook and team leader at Pleasurewood Hills near Lowestoft, who received the Work Skills award.

Dale said: “If it wasn't for this job, I'd be in prison by now. I was really struggling to find a job, but Pleasurewood Hills saw what I could do and gave me a chance and it's changed my life. I've really sorted myself out and now I've got the money to buy nice things for my daughter.”

Jane Stephenson, food and beverage manager at Pleasurewood Hills, added: “We were one of the first employers to agree to a LEP, in 2007. It gives us a broader scope of people. We look at what they can do rather than what they can't, and see where they could fit.”

LEPs are based on a “deal” with employers under which the Government, through Jobcentre Plus, takes steps to understand employers' requirements and gets disadvantaged people ready for work and employers with vacancies give people a fair shot at the job, through a range of measures such as adjusting recruitment processes, work trials, guaranteed interviews or mentoring.

The full line-up of regional LEP award winners at the ceremony was:

Recruitment Innovation Award: Cineworld, Haverhill. (Also nominated: Asda, Luton; Poundland, Great Yarmouth).

Commitment to Diversity Award: Serco, Norwich. (Also nominated: Center Parcs, Elveden; Royal Mail, East of England).

Unlocking Talent Award: The Entertainer, Ipswich. (Also nominated: Debenhams, Great Yarmouth; Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Norwich).

Getting Back to Work Award: Clare La Riviere, Asda, Luton. (Also nominated: Tony Farrow, Reed in Partnership, Ipswich; Michael Smith, Norfolk and Norwich NHS Trust, Norwich).

Work Skills Award: Dale Thompson, Pleasurewood Hills, Lowestoft. (Also nominated: Clare Sutton, Harriet's Caf� Tearooms, Peterborough; James Copping, Norwich Union, Norwich).

Partnership Works Award: Reed in Partnership, Ipswich. (Also nominated: Luton Borough Council; Center Parcs, Elveden).