A contingent of European disability employment specialists has visited Worcester this week (Monday 21 July) to see at first hand the groundbreaking work being undertaken by Remploy's new Worcester branch.
The branch, based at The Butts in Worcester, opened in May this year to deliver the Government's new Pathways to Work programme. It provides a range of specialist services to jobseekers with disabilities, health conditions and other disadvantages to support their transition from incapacity benefit back into work.
Remploy nationally is involved in a number of programmes to share best practice with partner organisations across Europe. The visitors from Grupo Gureak, based in Bilbao, were so impressed when they learned of the success Remploy is having in supporting disadvantaged people into employment that they requested the visit to see Remploy's facilities and ways of working first hand.
Grupo Gureak was founded in 1975 with the aim of fully integrating disabled people into society by placing them in jobs. It has just been awarded a multi million pound contract to deliver disability employment services in Spain and it is hoped that their observations from this week's visit will be instrumental in shaping their services back home.
The first day of the visit was spent at the Remploy Worcester branch - the guests will visit the Remploy Derby branch, spend time with candidates, and visit Asda, one of Remploy's employer partners, during the three-day visit.
Paul Collum, contract training manager for Remploy said: "Both Remploy and Grupo Gureak share the fundamental belief that employment is one of the most important elements in someone having an equal place in society and leading a full and independent life. Pathways to Work is a new and innovative programme that is based on choice for the jobseeker. As well as traditional job searching it also offers a raft of new support services like advice on drug rehabilitation, language difficulties and debt management so it was important to showcase how we overcome all these hurdles."
Olatz Zubillaga from Grupo Gureak said: "The way that Remploy works with candidates to build their confidence and break down their barriers to entering the workplace is a really important element of what we've come to see. We will be sharing lots of ideas over the course of the visit. The Worcester branch is very impressive, a real blueprint for how specialist employment services can and should be delivered across Europe."
The Pathways to Work programme is operated across Worcestershire by Remploy, the UK's leading provider of specialist employment services to people who experience complex barriers to work. Remploy's target is to find jobs for more than 2,600 people in Worcestershire during the initial three years of the programme.