Gareth Matthews, Serco's Business Director for Welfare Services, has been recognised for his lifetime commitment to improving the lives of disadvantaged people at the national Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) Employability Awards 2014.
Gareth took home the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Seetec, which recognises an exceptional individual who has dedicated a significant part of their career to the employment related services sector and has made a notable impact on the industry.
Gareth's wealth of knowledge and long-term commitment to the sector is without doubt worthy of this accolade. He always puts his customers at the heart of everything he does and is driven by the positive impact welfare services can have on individuals, their families and communities.
Gareth started his career with Jobcentre Plus, holding several senior roles for almost 30 years. He was then appointed Director for Wales at Working Links delivering a range of innovative solutions to help tackle the causes of long term unemployment in many of the country's deprived communities. During the seven years that Gareth was with Working Links, over 20,000 people were supported to find sustainable work. This number has continued to increase with the enduring legacy of Gareth's work in Wales. Plus, in his voluntary role as a Director of Rhyl City Strategy, Gareth continues to develop innovative solutions to address long-term unemployment in order to help regenerate one of Wales' most deprived communities.
Under his leadership at Serco, over 50,000 jobseekers have been supported into sustainable work since 2009 through the Flexible New Deal and Work Programme contracts. Gareth is also closely involved in a number of wider government initiatives aimed at supporting the welfare-to-work sector and the collaboration between private, public and voluntary organisations.
Kirsty McHugh, ERSA's Chief Executive, said: "I am truly delighted that Gareth won the lifetime achievement award. As well as being a formidable operator, he is completely dedicated to regenerating communities and changing lives. On top of that he is a genuinely good man, who I value tremendously.
"The ERSA awards are the perfect opportunity to thank the unsung heroes of welfare to work. Helping jobseekers back into work isn't always easy - there needs to be a strong partnership between frontline staff, employers and jobseekers themselves. All winners are inspirational, but they are also a reflection of the wider positive work of the sector and jobseekers themselves."
Gareth added: "I feel very honoured and humbled to be recognised for what has been, and continues to be, an enjoyable career. It is colleagues who I have worked with over many years who deserve the recognition. Their commitment to helping society's most disadvantaged individuals to change their lives for the better through helping them get and keep work is truly inspirational."
The ERSA award winners were announced at a special ceremony in London on 2 June 2014 which was attended by over 200 people, including the Employment Minister, Esther McVey MP, and Shadow Employment Minister, Stephen Timms MP.