We need strong champions in an uncertain time

14 July 2016

Well, hasn’t this been a weird period?  Probably one of the strangest that many of us will have experienced in our adult lives.  I know many of you will have been feeling rather discombobulated (yes, I know, a great word), by the pace and direction of change and might be downright scared by the uncertainty that you’re facing both to your organisation and maybe personally.

However, there’s a few things to bear in mind. 

First, with the economy potentially moving into uncertain waters, the need for decent employment and skills support may well never be greater.  This is not the time, government, to downsize your specialist employment support base!

Second, the focus on those on inactive benefits is unlikely to go away. The figures involved are just too eye watering and are likely to catch the attention of whoever is the Chancellor.

Third, we’re under new political leadership and that always brings opportunities.

And fourth, you are good at what you do. You have the performance and and the figures to prove it and should be out and proud of what you’ve achieved.

But, my, we have challenges.

The reason I like working with you, as a sector, so much is your absolute commitment to individuals and communities. You’re in the social mobility and/or independent living business.  That’s the mark of a decent society and we need that to continue.

We therefore need strong champions over this coming period.  We have to make the case collectively for specialist employment and skills support and continued social spend more generally. We need the Learning and Work Institute to take the lead on the evidence base. And we need government to be open about what it knows and what it doesn’t. No one sector has a monopoly on wisdom.

We have a lot to play for going forward.  I’m not going to pretend it isn’t going to be challenging, but those individuals and communities need us and we’re not going to let them down. 

InterWork2016 LogoKirsty McHugh is the CEO of Employment Related Services Association (ERSA).

This blog is part of a series of blogs produced at IntoWork Convention 2016