ISS employees, council officers and staff from social enterprise the Wise Group gathered in Inverness to mark the six-year anniversary of delivering amenity grass cutting services to the council.
The contract itself covers in excess of 6.5m sqm, including cemeteries, pitches, bowling greens and open spaces in Mid and West Ross, Lochaber, Badenoch and Strathspey, and Inverness and Nairn.
One of the key accomplishments of the partnership has been the recruitment of staff all drawn from Inverness and the surrounding areas, many second- and third-generation unemployed. Working through The Wise Group, employees are recruited using local agencies and job centres ensuring social inclusion and sustainable development to the local community.
2016 has seen nearly 80 candidates receive work experience, placements and employment opportunities via this route.
Continued investment in training for all ISS staff is also high on the agenda for this contract. This includes pedestrian machinery, brush-cutters and hand tools, ride-on mower LANTRA certification, rope harness training and PA1 and PA6 herbicide spraying.
The ISS Highland Team has also committed to investment in the local community. Local teams engage with groups such as Ardersier PLAY, where a tree was donated for the grand opening of the play park, and work with various sports facilities across the region such as Kilmallie Shinty Club. Last year also saw an introduction to the contract of a waste management system which saw more than 100 tonnes of green waste being recycled to a local plant.
Ian Campbell, ISS' regional director North, said: "ISS is immensely proud of the community benefits we provide to the Highlands. Not only our collaborative partnership with the Wise Group which allows us to together deliver employability and skills provision to those furthest from the labour market, but also our local community involvement which provides real benefits and long term improvement to the local communities."
Tom Wood, head of skills and employability at the Wise Group, said: "The partnership between ISS and the Wise Group is a great example of a third sector organisation working with a large private sector employer to support local people into sustainable employment.
"It provides real benefits and long term improvements to the Highland communities, creating job opportunities and helping people to realise their potential."