A FIRM which provides assistive technology to people with disabilities is looking to double its turnover.
Chris Quickfall set up Invate in 2006, not long after he was diagnosed with dyslexia, in a bid to offer technologies to help disabled people in education and employment.
This led to the launch of E-Quality Learning – a spin-out firm that offers 70% online and 20% face-to-face training to individuals in employment and education.
The Gateshead-based firm has been going on its own for 18 months now, and last year won the start-up award at the Cels Business for Life awards. Prior to launching in September 2011, the company paired up with Northumbria University and spent over £30,000 on a year of research into disabilities such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism and mental health-related learning difficulties, and specifically how they affect cognitive development.
Using the findings, the firm developed and built a new training model that included online training and learning support that learners can access around the clock.
It is the only organisation in the UK that provides ongoing assistance to support individuals after the initial one-to-one training is complete.
After launching with just seven people, the firm has added 23 full-time equivalent jobs, totalling 30 people, and has plans for more jobs to help it deal with increased demand nationwide for its pioneering service.
As part of its employment policy, the company has adopted a positive attitude towards hiring people with disabilities, especially those with IT and training experience.
Following the recent recruitment drive, around one third of its 30-strong workforce have disabilities that range from dyslexia to cerebral palsy.
The approach by E-Quality is a welcome boost for the region’s disabled workforce following recent announcements at Remploy, which has led to redundancies for 138 people at factories across the North East.
Quickfall said: “For the past nine months we have billed just over £500,000 and forecast significant growth going forward which we hope will take us to a turnover of £1.1m for the next financial year.
“After introducing our new technology on to the marketplace back in 2010, we’ve experienced huge interest in our training method due to the excellent outcomes it has delivered in helping people with various disabilities deal with challenges in the workplace, in education and when seeking employment.
“As a result of the uptake of our services from Government bodies such as the NHS, Student Finance England and other higher education institutions, we have been able to take on many new people in the North East and throughout the UK.
“With an ongoing recruitment drive well underway, we are always on the look-out for new people, regardless of disability, to support our growth and assist in delivering our training services to help people across the UK.”
The training expert’s services are aimed at large corporations, local councils, universities, colleges and schools that all have learners or employees who require assistive technology training support.