Council nominated for prestigious Employer of the Year award

Pictured HDC Employment Support Officer Lesley Beauvoisin with local resident Sarah Champniss

Horsham District Council has been nominated as Employer of the Year for its Journey to Work employment programme at this year’s prestigious Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) Employability Awards.

Now in their eighth year, the awards final this year takes place virtually today at 5pm .

The Employer of the Year award recognises employers who have demonstrated exceptional commitment in creating opportunities for disadvantaged and long-term unemployed jobseekers.

Horsham District Council launched its Journey to Work (J2W) programme in January 2012 with a project designed to help 18-24-year olds find work and within the first year. The programme supported 54 young people with work experience placements of which 47 found work within three months as a result. Many were hired into paid employment by the Council or partnering employers.

Subsequent years saw the project develop and the priority groups that needed support changed each year. The principle of supporting jobseekers and providing them with mentoring support, work placements and assisted job searching remained a constant.

Since 2012, the J2W programme has supported more than 700 local people with nearly 300 having found work as a direct consequence of the programme. The Council itself has supported more than 200 internal work placements and nearly 50 of those have been employed in some form during that time. 16 current Council staff are former J2W participants.

One of those is local resident Sarah Champniss (pictured with J2W Support Officer, Lesley Beauvoisin) who found herself unemployed after a company restructure, so approached the Council about the programme for support.

Sarah commented:

“A part-time work experience opportunity came up at the Council in the Property and Facilities team which I took up. I am both building on previous skills and learning new skills which is great. I have also set up my own business which I run on a part-time basis.

“I think the Journey to Work programme is amazing and I would definitely recommend it. I had no idea there was so much valuable help available which is free to access via the Council.”

J2W has become a significant method of recruitment for the Council across a range of different departments. In total, 17 different departments have provided meaningful work experience opportunities for J2W participants since 2012. In about 25% of cases, these have resulted in permanent paid employment and further career development opportunities.

Horsham District Council Cabinet Member for the Local Economy and Parking Cllr Paul Clarke said:

“Our nomination for the ERSA Employer of the Year Award is justly deserved after many years of supporting the Horsham District’s residents to find paid work.

“Not only has the Council itself benefited from a large number of quality participants in the programme over the years, but the whole economy has benefited.

“At this difficult time, it is more important than ever to talk about support programmes like Journey to Work and the Council’s Work Information and Support (WISH) hubs project, both of which continue to offer support throughout the impact of the current pandemic. I wish Journey to Work the best of luck at the awards final on 22 July”.

Horsham District Council’s J2W and WISH programmes are available to anyone who needs support finding work. Visit the website for more information on how to get some help.

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