A bespoke online employability service is helping disabled people find or stay in work – at the click of a mouse.

iRemploy, which was launched by Remploy in April this year, has already helped more than 1,900 people who were facing significant barriers to getting a job or were at risk of falling out of employment because of their disability or health condition.

“One of the main features of iRemploy is that it gives candidates control over their job searching and allows them to receive advice from a trained iAdvisor,” said Maxine Moss-Black, Remploy’s head of Digital Services.

Almost half of the people using the innovative service will, says Maxine, already have registered for specialist employment support at one of more than 60 Remploy branches across Britain, from the north of Scotland to south west England.

“However, we understand that getting to a Remploy branch isn’t a practical option for everyone and iRemploy provides a flexible alternative for candidates who are unemployed or may simply be looking to change jobs,” she added.

Available via Remploy’s website – www.remploy.co.uk – iRemploy provides a range of services, including most of those that are delivered at Remploy branches, such as help building a CV and advice on interview techniques. Others that are unique to iRemploy include online workshops and community forums that allow candidates to link with people in a similar position to them.

“The flexibility the service offers is proving very popular,” said Maxine. “iAdvisors can be contacted through instant messaging from 8am until midnight, Monday to Friday and from 10am to 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

“Many candidates welcome being able to use the service at a time that suits them, particularly in the evenings and at weekends. We even had one candidate from our Worcester branch contact an iAdvisor at 11pm to ask for advice about an interview he was attending the next morning. It paid off, because he got the job!”

iRemploy is not, however, about to replace Remploy’s hugely successful face-to-face service delivered by its city-centre branch network, as Maxine explained. “Our branches will carry on supporting thousands of disabled people into employment. iRemploy is about giving our candidates greater choice and flexibility around when and how they are able to access our services. More than 60% of our candidates use the internet as part of their everyday lives and each time a candidate chooses to use our on-line service it enables us to provide even more support at our branches for job seekers who benefit most from face-to-face services, such as people with learning disabilities.

“In fact, the information we gain from the online conversations between candidates and iAdvisors is providing us with some very useful information that will allow us to tailor our existing services and develop new ones – both online and at our branches.”

In July the Department for Work and Pensions launched a commercial process under which Remploy Employment Services would leave government ownership by March 2015.

This creates an exciting opportunity for a partner or investor to help develop Remploy to its full potential, enabling it to support many more disabled people into work.

The Government envisages that the commercial process will create a Joint Venture between a partner or investor and Remploy Employment Services staff operating as a social business in the private sector.