From education to employment

Government proposes new offender learning strategy to curb unemployment

The government has outlined plans to break the cycle of reoffending through developing stronger links between learning in prisons and the vocational and employability skills that employers demand.

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) published a report yesterday to detail the plan.

According to the report, the way learning is delivered in prisons should be overhauled to better reflect the way the prison system is organised and improve value for money.

Under the reforms to the adult offender education system in England, more emphasis will be laid on the results that education and training in prison delivers.

Skills Minister John Hayes said: “Our goal is to make sure offenders understand there are viable alternatives to criminality. Rehabilitation through education works best when there is a strong link to meaningful work.

“I want to ensure that, for as many ex-offenders as possible, release is not followed by re-arrest, but by employment and re-integration into law-abiding society.”

The report sets out the Government’s commitment to:

– Increase the range and relevance of learning, focussing on the skills employers need.

– Support more work opportunities in prison.

– Improve links with employers, ensuring where possible a relationship with employers has been established before release.

– Boost activity to prepare prisoners for apprenticeship opportunities on release.

– Focus learning delivery towards the end of prisoners’ sentences, linking it directly to needs in the labour market on release.

– Reshape careers advice provided in custody.

– Trial outcome incentive payments, giving colleges and training providers a greater stake in delivering learning successfully.

– Restructure the delivery of offender learning around the clusters of prisons within which prisoners normally move – bringing more coherence to the system.

The Government would guarantee these reforms offer good value for the tax payer by ensuring the money goes to where it is most needed and will do most good.

Comparing the previous investment in offender learning to the reform, Prison Minister Crispin Blunt said: “This review will ensure that learning supports work in prison and employment on release, both of which are key elements of our efforts to rehabilitate offenders.”

The report reveals that previous investment in offender learning lacked adequate links with employment outcomes on release from prison and was commissioned too remotely from the prisons in which the training was delivered.

Mr Blunt added that “the wider package of reforms will be set out shortly in response to the Green Paper consultation on ‘Breaking the Cycle: Punishment, Rehabilitation & Sentencing of Offenders'”.

Aastha Gill

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