From education to employment

Ex-offenders on NVQ course designed to reduce re-offending levels

Sixty ex-offenders have been picked for an NVQ course to enable them to gain jobs with contractors in the utility sector. The course offers the participants a taste of the types of work the sectors could offer and may assist the individuals with achieving future employment opportunities, and reduce the risk of potential re-offending.

Sector Skills Council Energy & Utility Skills (EU Skills), together with a selection of training providers, has worked with the Probation Service in Yorkshire and Humberside to identify potential trainees. The move is part of the probation services remit to train ex-offenders in the community. EU Skills has a target of training a total of 168 ex-offenders this year in a variety of generic courses. So far, 92 have been selected and of those, 60 are willing and able to complete a full NVQ. Funded by the LSC, six courses have started since April this year, following on from the winter terms courses.

Veronica Stephenson, Skills Director – North East, Yorkshire & Humberside, Energy & Utility Skills explains: “We are pleased to see ex-offenders given the opportunity to train in the community, and help meet government targets on reducing re-offending. “

The government has a target of reducing re-offending by 5 per cent by 2008 and 10 per cent by 2010. EU Skills hope that by engaging these ex-offenders in training programmes, they will be better equipped to apply for jobs with contractors next year.

Ms Stephenson continues: “Energy & Utility Skills has matched the training to the demand in the region, and we hope employers will see the benefits of recruiting our trainees.”

The principles behind the project are to give the participants a series of “taster” courses that are generic enough to be applicable to different industries within the utility sector ““ gas, electricity, water, and waste management ““ to make the participants attractive to recruiters. For example, there are courses in manual handling, the SHEA Gas passport, and emergency first aid.

The Yorkshire and Humberside region has been identified by sector employers and EU Skills as an area of particular shortage in the kinds of skills used by network operatives. These taster courses offer a chance to train in some of these skills. Although no jobs can be guaranteed at the end of training, the kind of malleable training the ex-offenders receive gives them a real chance when it comes to recruitment.

Gary Fisher, Senior Consultant, Develop Training Ltd, one of the training providers involved in the project comments: “Ex-offender training plays a vital role in developing local people to meet the needs of the utility sectors and help address the skills shortage in the Yorkshire and Humberside region. Develop Training Ltd is pleased to be working with Energy & Utility Skills to provide this kind of training within the community.”

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