Timpsons frequently advertise on social media that they employ a large number of ex-offenders, and successfully. This may be something that we will be seeing more of following a recent government announcement.
Dominic Raab, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, has announced the introduction of prisoner apprenticeships. Regulations will be brought in later in the year to change the law and allow prisoners to be subject to day release to access apprenticeship opportunities toward the end of their sentences. It is said that the scheme will see “hundreds” of prisoners start an apprenticeship by 2025. Pre-apprenticeship training will also be offered to other prisoners to prepare them for an apprenticeship or higher-skilled job after their release. Polls were published in 2021 that state nine out of ten businesses that hired ex-offenders found them to be reliable, punctual, trustworthy and good at their job.
The government announcement states that the move is in order to reduce crime and to address local labour shortages. Evidence demonstrates that those who leave prison with work are significantly less likely to re-offend. The aim to address local labour shortages at the same time means there will be apprenticeship opportunities in vital industries such as construction and hospitality. An initial pilot will allow up to a hundred prisoners to be offered the opportunity before it is rolled out across the whole prison estate.
HMP Prescoed is a Category D men’s open prison in Wales where prisoners tend to be transferred to serve the latter part of their sentences. The focus is on reintegration back into the community before release. The prison has one of the largest training programmes within prisons and allows prisoners to plug local skills shortages. Prisoners work in agricultural areas such as maintenance, animal care and woodland management.
HMP Ford in West Sussex is another open prison where all prisoners are expected to work as they would out in the community. Inside the prison, there are opportunities to take part in painting and decorating, carpentry, engineering, cleaning and call centre work. Outside of the prison, work is supported through community service placements, work experience or paid work. The prison also has a wide range of vocational courses available, such as training as an HGV driver. The prison partners with sectors facing staffing concerns, for example, construction, agriculture and hospitality.
The announcement says:
- prisoners will have access to apprenticeships for the first time to help crime.
- this is a scheme to provide job-based training in key industries and boost local employers.
- a game-changing move to get more ex-offenders into jobs and cut the cost of re-offending by £18 billion.
- the launch comes in National Apprenticeship Week, celebrating the positive impact that apprenticeships bring to employers, ex-offenders, and the economy.
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[Image: “Into the Prison” by Bill Nicholls is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 ]