JobPath operator Seetec to become one of Ireland and the UK’s largest employee-owned public services companies
- Working with almost 10,000 Irish businesses and employers across 14 counties, Seetec has helped over 30,000 people into work in Ireland to date
- The company, directly employs over 237 people in Ireland and 2,535 people across the UK.
Seetec, a leading provider of skills, employment, justice and rehabilitation services, today becomes one of the largest employee-owned companies delivering public services in the UK and Ireland.
The company has annual revenues of £150 million and will be the 9th largest employee-owned company in the UK by number of employees.
In Ireland, the company is contracted by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to operate the JobPath service on behalf of the Irish Government.
JobPath is an employment activation service provided to people who have been on the live register for more than 12 months and to enable them to secure and sustain full-time paid employment or self-employment.
Working with over 10,000 Irish businesses and employers across 14 counties, Seetec has helped over 30,000 people into work in Ireland to date.
An evaluation of the service published by the Department in April 2019 noted the success of the service concluding that JobPath participants improved their employment outcomes by 20% compared to a matched group of non-participants. The participants who secured employment with the support of JobPath increased their average weekly earnings by 16% compared to a matched group of non-participants who also secured employment.
The company directly employs over 237 people in Ireland and 2,535 people across the UK.
The JobPath employment service commenced in 2015 and has recently been extended for a further 12 months.
A new employee council will be established to manage and represent the interests of employees, which include frontline probation workers, employment advisers and trainers.
Representatives from the Irish team will be elected to the council, a role which will be instrumental in influencing the future direction of the business.
Similar to a Co-operative (Co-op) business structure which is adopted in Ireland, the move means that the business is managed and owned, in part, by its employees.
Seetec’s founder and 80 per cent shareholder, Peter Cooper, has sold 51 per cent of the company into an Employee Ownership Trust for the sole benefit of the company’s 2,535 employees. This complements and is in addition to, an existing employee benefit trust (EBT) established in 1990 which already owns 18 per cent of the company, as well as a 1.5 per cent stake held by the company’s charity, Your Ambition.
In the UK, Seetec supervises and supports nearly 30,000 low and medium risk offenders across the south of England and Wales for the UK Ministry of Justice. Through the Department for Work and Pensions’ Work and Health Programme, the company also provides intensive support to people who may be disadvantaged and struggling to get into work.
The company also provides apprenticeships and training on behalf of thousands of employers including market leaders in aviation, media and logistics as well as small and medium sized enterprises across Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Peter Cooper retains a 29 per cent stake in the business and will step down from his role as executive chairman. He will continue to chair the main board as a non-executive director. John Baumback, the current managing director, will assume executive leadership of the company as group managing director from 1 April 2020.
Seetec’s Executive Director for Ireland, Karl Milne, said:
“This move to employee ownership will see our teams across Ireland have greater opportunity to shape the direction of our business. They already do fantastic work serving their communities and they know what it takes to successfully support people into work. Ultimately, by empowering them as employee owners, we build on their commitment to the business and ensure that their experience and insight influences the way our services and business evolves.
“The Irish business is a key contributor to our ongoing success. With our local partners we will maintain our focus on delivering for our service users and commissioners in Ireland and growing and developing the business further.”
Commenting today, Seetec Chairman, Peter Cooper, said:
“Seetec was founded to help people to take ownership and responsibility over their lives and so it is a logical step for Seetec’s employees to take on ownership of the business.
“Our founding ethos was to empower people and deliver social value, attributes that are hardwired into our culture. When 30 unemployed young people first came to a former primary school in Essex more than 35 years ago to learn computer programming skills from Seetec trainers, our simple aim was to help them to change their lives for the better by giving them the tools to shape their future.
“As I approach 36 years at the helm of the business, I have increasingly wrestled with how best to protect these values, ethos and roots in communities across the UK and Ireland. I have never been satisfied that a sale to outside investors would protect our record as a force for good, fearing that we would be subsumed into a corporate culture which is not sufficiently focused on doing the right thing for the people who use our services.
“It is Seetec’s employees who know the people they support best and understand instinctively what it takes to deliver life-changing services. The evidence also shows that employee owners can be more productive, engaged and innovative. Under this structure it is my hope that we can continue our legacy of growth as a private company and represent an alternative way, which creates profit for social value and rewards each other, comfortable in the knowledge that it is possible to do well by doing good.”
Seetec group managing director, John Baumback, said:
Employee ownership means that Seetec’s future is now in the hands of our people, certain in the knowledge that we cannot be sold to the highest bidder. “As shareholders in our collective success, with new accountabilities and responsibilities, we have an opportunity to create value not just as employee-owners but for the communities and clients we serve. There is now an exciting future ahead as we establish a new dedicated employee council to manage and represent employees’ interests and shape the next chapter of the company’s future.