From education to employment

£2.3M Construction skills site with real construction site working environment in HMP Lindho

The Home Secretary officially opened purpose built construction industry training facilities, the first of its kind within the prison service, at HMP Lindholme near Doncaster today.

Jointly funded by Yorkshire Forward, and the Home Office, the construction skills centre has been developed to provide bespoke learning and skills programmes in five disciplines, bricklaying, painting and decorating, plastering, plumbing and joinery. Trainees will work towards the CITB and City and Guilds joint awarding body Intermediary Construction Award.

Yorkshire Forward has invested £2.3 million in the project, which includes the refurbishment of the building into a learning centre. This has five specifically designed workshops, one for each discipline, and an onsite classroom. The project is unique because it offers a “real” construction site working environment and is run by staff employed from industry.

Currently, 90% of prisoners face unemployment on release, and 60% of those re-convicted are unemployed. Research suggests that employment reduces the risk of re-offending by between a third and a half.

On release from Lindholme, trainees will receive “hands on” support and advice on securing employment and progressing their learning. Doncaster College, City College Manchester, CITB Construction Skills, SOVA and the Learning and Skills Council are supporting the project.

Rt Hon David Blunkett MP said: “The development of construction industry training here at Lindholme is a good, practical example of what we are trying to do in prison to give prisoners more chance of getting a job when they are released. This is vital to effective resettlement, and can also help to fill the substantial skills gap in construction across Yorkshire and Humberside.”

Terry Hodgkinson, Chair of Yorkshire Forward and Managing Director of Magna Holdings Ltd said: “Having worked in the construction industry for many years, I am well aware of how important it is to have a skilled and reliable workforce. This unique partnership with the Home Office will enable trainees to gain valuable practical skills within the centre. Guided by expert tutors with many years of construction experience. They will have the opportunity to enhance their skills and qualifications for entry into mainstream employment. Having talked with some of the trainees about the scheme, I have been impressed with their enthusiasm, dedication and willingness to take up this innovative construction training.”

Steve Wagstaffe, Prison Service Area Manager for Yorkshire and Humber said “This ground breaking initiative is an excellent way of ensuring that the positive work that is started with offenders in prison is continued into the community.”

This is the second joint initiative between Yorkshire Forward and the Home Office at Lindholme Prison. An onsite bakery which was opened in March this year has already proved successful in helping participants to find employment and study for further qualifications.

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