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Project to help people with health issues find work unveiled

The £5m Work Able Scotland programme aims to support up to 1500 get into employment.

Remploy: The company is one of three involved in scheme.
Remploy: The company is one of three involved in scheme. © STV

People with health conditions will be helped to find work through a new employment support service prompted by the devolution of new Scottish powers.

The £5m Work Able Scotland programme promises to support up to 1500 people and will be provided by Progress Scotland, The Wise Group and Remploy.

The initial one-year contract, managed by Skills Development Scotland, will come into effect from April 2017.

In one of the first uses of devolved powers under the Scotland Act 2016, the Scottish Government will begin employment programmes from April 2017 ahead of a Scottish programme of employment support in April 2018.

Employability and training minister Jamie Hepburn said: "The devolution of employment services next year offers a real opportunity to make Scotland fairer and create voluntary programmes that treat people with dignity and respect.

"The programmes will allow us to improve services while ensuring that people accessing them receive continuous support through a seamless transition.

"We have already given people an assurance that they will not be sanctioned through our employment programmes, we want our services to be seen as an opportunity, and not a threat."

Both contracts for 2017 have now been awarded and aim to meet the needs of unemployed people and help businesses find skilled and committed employees.

Neville Prentice, senior director of service development and delivery at Skills Development Scotland, said: "We look forward to working with the service providers to support and help people who face barriers to work to get into employment."

Remploy chief executive Gareth Parry said: "Scotland's newly devolved powers over employment support provide a real opportunity to develop integrated, community-based solutions and reduce the employment gap for disabled people and those with health conditions."

Laurie Russell, chief executive of The Wise Group, said it had set up a consortium of third-sector organisations with a track record in matching the skills and talents of people with the needs of employers.

Progress Scotland is a joint venture between the Lennox Partnership and Working Links.

Blyth Deans, chief executive of the Lennox Partnership, said: "Progress Scotland provides an opportunity to bring together some of the most successful employability support organisations in Scotland with a very wide range of skills and experience that will undoubtedly benefit the customers we seek to assist in their journey to sustainable employment."

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