Sheffield Star’s Industrial Survey 2011
You could say that 2010 was a tumultuous year for many industries, with the UK economy and others around the world still battling their way out of the global financial crisis, emergency stimulus packages and austerity measures. And over two years since the fall of Lehman Brothers marked the beginning of the one of the deepest recessions of our time, where few countries were left unscathed, we’re still seeing casualties like Greece and Ireland receiving bailouts.
For many UK businesses, both small and large, times have been tough, and for esg. and others who contract with government to help people back into work and to acquire new skills, there was the added uncertainty brought by a new administration coming to power. As a leading provider of back to work and job-specific training services delivering primarily to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA), we’re directly affected by changes in government policy. And it just so happened that the coalition government decided it was time to bring in the most radical reform of the welfare state for 60 years.
The changes seen so far have included the introduction of the ambitious Work Programme, an initiative which replaces most of the existing contracts aimed at helping long-term unemployed people back into work. It is hoped that the less regulatory nature of this programme will mean that more people on out-of-work benefits will be helped into work than ever before with the support of organisations like ours.
We have seen the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) become the SFA, focusing more on adult learning and skills and therefore giving us the chance to help a wider range of people. We also welcomed the creation of the Young People’s Learning Agency (YPLA) with the mission of championing education and training for young people in England. And there is the planned consolidation of the current complicated benefits system into the universal credit to make sure it always pays to be in a job.
All these changes have brought uncertainty with them and an increased level of competition for new business with the DWP. But at the same time they’ve also opened the doors to some massive opportunities with big plans to help a much broader scope of individuals.
These ongoing opportunities to help more people return to work or to acquire skills have meant that our company has grown to its current size of almost 900 people, £50m, turnover and delivery from over 100 locations. Our Sheffield head office and sales centre has benefited from this growth, with a move from our previous Brightside base to larger premises on the Sheffield Business Park, presenting further prospects for Sheffield people. So whilst our industry is changing, for those brave enough to ride out the storm and grab the opportunities presented, it’s a journey worth taking.