Version 1 partner with Cedar to devise a new collaborative model to empower people living with a disability with employability skills on behalf of Department of Finance NI

On 9th June, 10 people living with a disability or who are neurodiverse, were invited to Version 1’s Belfast office to celebrate their successful completion of the Version 1 Employability Skills Programme.

This initiative was delivered with the support of the Department of Finance NI, as part of the social value requirements that were included on the Digital Shared Services Contract. The initiative was developed in partnership with the team and service users at Cedar Foundation. Working collaboratively a full programme was devised and delivered to people with diverse accessibility needs, and individuals whose familiarity with technology ranged from competent end user to those with industry experience.

Version 1 first approached Cedar Foundation in November 2021 with an opportunity to devise and deliver a substantial programme of skills for people at risk of digital exclusion. Cedar Foundation supports a substantial cohort of people who are engaged through their Inclusion Works programme. This programme supports adults with disabilities to build employability skills and experience to support their integration into employment, further education or voluntary sectors. Version 1 worked with the team from Cedar to devise a programme of complementary skills that focussed on remote working and collaboration using digital tools.

group of people

Participants of the programme joined team members from Version 1 over 12 weeks for sessions delivered remotely, with people participating from both their homes and from a supported site provided by Cedar Foundation. Alongside sessions to improve their CV writing, interview skills and digital competence using remote collaborative tools, the group were invited to complete individual and group exercises to improve their independent working and teamwork skills.

Group of people

A highlight of the sessions for the whole group was working with OutSystems to design a quiz and explore coding logic.

The team member from Version 1 was just fantastic, they worked with our neurodiverse service users to ensure that they understood the work, Version 1 was so patient with our service users, and they were smiling after the session. – Ashley Poole, Case Officer, Cedar Foundation

The programme concluded with a celebration event at the prestigious Version 1 offices at Lanyon Plaza, where the 10 participants presented some of their work, experiences and feedback from the programme.  An assembled audience included family, friends, representatives from Version 1, Cedar Foundation and the Department of Finance, whose vision for Social Value and digital inclusion provided the impetus for the initiative. All the participants of the programme received a certificate to mark their achievements, with their support network offered the opportunity to celebrate their success.