Wates Construction worked with the Novus Works team in the North East to identify learners with experience in the construction sector who could apply to work on a current project which Wates are working on in conjunction with Gateshead Council and Gibside School, as well as any future opportunities with Wates.
Novus Works North East and the Novus education department at HMP Northumberland hosted an employability event for learners with Wates. Eleven learners attended the event, where they met Wates site managers, took part in a Q&A session and were interviewed for job opportunities on release.
Wates also funded an Asbestos Awareness training course for learners at the event, which all learners passed and received a certificate for. The company wanted to ensure that even if learners were not successful in progressing into employment with them, they had been upskilled as part of their experience and would have a better chance of getting a job in the future.
Dan Dodsworth, Senior Site Manager, Construction Yorkshire and North East, Wates said: “Construction can be a highly competitive industry so looking at recruitment differently is important. Hosting a recruitment event within a prison will challenge those with a traditional mindset. At Wates we want to attract the best people for the job, that means looking at the whole individual rather than just their conviction, and risk assess accordingly. I was impressed by those that I spoke to – they had transferrable skills, came across as extremely hard working and keen to seize a second chance.
The event helped me realise just how important gaining employment is to individuals, helping them to get their lives back on track. But it’s about more than doing the right thing - I read that up to a third of men have a criminal conviction, so if Wates didn’t consider this group, we are effectively excluding a huge talent pool from the recruitment process.
All 11 learners interviewed well and will now be supported to continue in the process to work towards securing employment with Wates and their sub-contractors on release.
To ensure all the candidates have the required certificates and training to support their progress, and all the necessary support can be put in place for them to succeed after release, Novus are working in partnership with prison colleagues at HMP Northumberland and agencies both inside and outside the prison.
Charlotte Taylor, Employer Account Manager North East for Novus said: “We are delighted to be working with Wates, supporting our learners into work. All the men really impressed both our team and our employer throughout the whole day and certainly did HMP Northumberland proud. It’s great to see such positive outcomes and we will be supporting the men as they progress towards their release and into employment.”
Novus and Wates Construction are now looking to build on their partnership in the region, strengthening the curriculum pathways and working with learners in other prisons to motivate them to work towards employment in the construction sector.