One of the biggest barriers to the success for ex-offenders is lack of employment opportunities that are available on release. Most prisoners want the opportunity to turn their lives around when they re-enter their communities, but with only 17% of them finding employment within a year of release, many fall back into antisocial behaviours to support themselves.
As many as 46% of prisoners have no academic qualifications; education is incredibly important in tackling this challenge. However equally important, and beneficial for employers, is the work we do in creating pathways from education to employment for our learners.
According to government statistics, 81% of people feel that businesses employing ex-offenders are making a positive contribution to society, while 86% of employers rate ex-offenders as good at their job. We work with partner businesses across England and Wales to help them recognise the benefits in employing from our pool of learners. In doing this, we can help businesses save money on recruitment and give our learners the chance they need to succeed on release.
Working in the North East to provide employment for prison leavers
Recently, our Novus Works teams across the North East of England have been hard at work to support our learners into employment.
Working with Greene King at HMP Holme House
At HMP Holme House, our colleagues have been working alongside Greene King, as part of a long-running partnership to help learners gain employment in their pubs across England. The team recently provided support to a learner who was working in the kitchen at the prison and showed excellent promise in the hospitality industry. After attending an employment event, he sought the guidance of the Novus Works team in preparing him for a successful interview with Greene King.
Nine months on and our learner has completed his trial period and is undertaking an apprenticeship in the kitchen. The Greene King team have been impressed with his positive attitude and work ethic, so much so that he has been offered a temporary opportunity as line chef.
Partnering with Balfour Beatty and Core People
We work with our partner employers to inform the way we structure our classes and teaching in prisons. By doing this, we can make sure that our teaching always matches industry standards and that our learners are clued up on the latest tools and skills when they are released.
Recently, we have seen more success from our Novus Works team at HMP Holme House who have been working with Balfour Beatty and Core People to provide learners reliable and challenging employment when they leave our establishments.
Due to the large amount of construction work being undertaken in the region, Balfour Beatty approached us to host an employment fair at Holme House where they could hopefully inspire prisoners to join their team. One learner, who had a limited employment history prior to his release, approached our team about this opportunity.
After attending a recruitment session with Core People, he was identified as a learner who could benefit from further support on release. Balfour Beatty were able to set the learner up with a single day induction training and he was registered for a 6-week training programme, where he gained all relevant industry accreditation.
Since then, this learner (and others who participated in the employment event), has found full time employment as a skilled labourer at a site near his home. He’s delighted with the progress he’s made so far and positive about future career prospects.
After 30 years in prison education, we’ve found that there’s no one-shoe-fits-all approach to education in the prison system. Each learner comes to us with their own history and support needs, so we’ve learned to be adaptive and flexible in our approach. Luckily for us, we work with an amazing team of colleagues and partner employers who are willing to put in the work and make sure that every learner has the best chances at success that we can provide. Collaboration with both the prison and the employers is key, by all working together we can improve the experience for the learner and learner outcomes.
If you’d like to learn more about how we support learners into employment or how you can get your own business involved, head to our Novus Works page.