SUSE (Scottish Union of Supported Employment) – Business Diversity Awards

SUSE (Scottish Union of Supported Employment) – Business Diversity Awards

I must commend the SUSE (Scottish Union of Supported Employment) for hosting the Business Diversity Awards at BBC Scotland on Thursday 17 November 2011.

Scottish Union of Supported Employment promotes awareness of diversity and equality in the workplace. It also engages and works alongside Scottish businesses to unleash the talents of the disabled people in the public population.

Empowering employers and service providers requires understanding, team work and communication from all sectors across Scotland to work together to address the prejudices faced by disabled people and their preconceived capabilities of securing their career in the job markets. It a rising challenge for everyone however it will deliver a strong collective sense in the long term.

As a guest speaker, I spoke about the motivation to succeed and I hoped after the event the winners will leave feeling inspired and motivated more than ever to encourage everyone of non disabled and disabled people to combine their qualities to make your organisation succeed.

The Scottish Business Diversity Awards recognizes Businesses, Organisations and Individuals who excel in promoting the employment of people with disabilities and health issues and people from diverse backgrounds.

The Scottish Union of Supported Employment Business Diversity Awards aim to:

  • Raise the profile of and promote positively the employment of people with disabilities and long term health conditions, and people from diverse backgrounds.
  • Highlight employers who implement inclusive recruitment practice.
  • Promote and highlight the benefits of inclusive recruitment practice.
  • Showcase positive case studies that address the negative attitudes and prejudices that hinder inclusive recruitment practice.
  • Inspire people with disabilities and health issues and people from diverse backgrounds to move into employment.

There were five awards – Employer of the year, Employee of the year, Work Initiative of the Year, Employment Service Provider of the year and a Diversity Award. BBC Scotland was the Work Initiative of the Year’s sponsor this year. Nick, BBC HR Manager and myself presented this category.

The shorlisted winners are:
Lochore Meadows
Specialisterne Scotland

Fife Council’s Outdoor Education Centre at Lochore Meadows, work in partnership with Fife Employability Team (FET) and West Fife Community Support Service (WFCSS) to offer volunteering opportunities for people with learning disabilities.

Volunteers help to design and build new mountain bike trails and maintain existing trails within the country park. This gives people a wide variety of work experiences. Volunteers gain credits for hours worked and these can be exchanged for hiring bicycles. Staff from WFCSS have now accomplished the basic cycle leader qualification.  This enables them to lead small cycling groups within the country park which benefits other service users. Staff, volunteers and those supported by WFCSS now enjoy free bike hire that lets them enjoy the wildlife and fantastic scenery at the park, with the added benefits of promoting the employability agenda and a health lifestyle.

Specialisterne Scotland  is a social enterprise franchised from Denmark, offering employment opportunities for people on the autistic spectrum. Work is specialised in web development and software testing.  The unique business plan was developed with particular recognition of the known skills and abilities of people on the spectrum. By focussing on the particular skills of people on the spectrum, Specialisterne are championing inclusive recruitment practices and very effective job matching arrangements.

So far 24 people have undergone training, 12 have completed training and 8 of those trainees are now paid employees.  These employees are offered support and development through training, one to one and performance meetings. The trainees and employees have highly sought after skills that enables the business to succeed in the IT sector.

Work4U, Fife
Fife Employability Team, Fife Council Social Work Service, delivers the Work4U project in 18 secondary schools throughout Fife.  The project targets young people with additional learning support needs, and those most likely to have no employment, training  or further education opportunities when they leave school.

Work4U helps these 4th year students to consider the skills and qualities that they have, the type of work this might be suited to, and provides work placements with local employers. Over the last year W4U has engaged with 244 young people; 172 completed a one week work placement, 84 have stayed on at school, 54 have gone into further education, 12 have taken up further training and apprenticeship opportunities and 6 are now in paid employment.

This early intervention initiative has shown the real benefits of cross service partnerships between Education and Social Work, and the positive outcomes that can be achieved for the benefit of young people in the world of work.

And in reverse order:

Bronze award goes to Lochore Meadows
Silver award goes to Specialisterne Scotland
Gold award winner is Work4U

For more information on SUSE (Scottish Union of Supported Employment),


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