From the margins to the mainstream: Supporting hard-to-reach learners in the North through education, skills, employment and justice
On 5th December, experts from across the justice, education and skills sectors came together for a Novus roundtable in Leeds to share ideas on how to support those leaving prison into employment or training.
How the Yorkshire model is transforming progression from prison into work
Novus representatives outlined the success of the “Yorkshire model”, highlighting how the support that it offers through education and training is followed by a one-to-one relationship with individuals both in the 12 weeks running up to release and in the weeks that follow (for as long as is needed). The key to success is building a rapport with the learner, understanding their needs and worries and matching them to appropriate education and employment opportunities.
Lynne Kennedy, Talent Development Manager for Greene King, shared how successful this model has been, and how Greene King has been “blown away by the talent and availability from prison leavers”. Greene King’s relationship with Novus and other partners supporting employment outcomes within the prison system has helped to boost its recruitment, particularly in addressing current shortages in the hospitality sector.
Greene King believes that accessing this “untapped talent pool” is so important that it has even launched an academy at HMP Thameside with a training kitchen where Novus learners can work towards City & Guilds qualifications whilst getting experience of a real-life kitchen. Greene King colleagues visit the prison to run masterclasses and many of the learners can go straight into jobs in Greene King upon release.
Participants discussed how to get more employers involved in the justice sector, and how to address the issue of finding opportunities for prisoners who are incarcerated at a location distant from their homes. West Yorkshire Combined Authority is supporting more prison leavers into work with its skills connect programme, creating employment hubs in HMP Leeds and HMP Wealstun.
Promoting joined-up policy and practice
Attendees agreed that one-to-one support is key, rather than just focusing on outcomes, particularly as it sometimes takes prison leavers more than six weeks to readjust to life on the outside and find accommodation and employment. In this challenging transition period, individuals are often in need of support and development of the soft skills they need to find work. The importance of trauma-informed practice was also discussed as well as the need for employers to play a key role in influencing the local skills agenda through LSIPs.
Thank you to our attendees from Novus, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, the Association of Colleges, the Learning and Work Institute and Greene King. If you are an employer who would like to discuss employing prison leavers on release, or offering apprenticeships to current prisoners on day release, please contact our Novus Works team who are happy to help.