From education to employment

MK College national first helping Young Offenders find work

Milton Keynes College OLASS (Offender Learning and Skills Service) team and Remploy, the disability employment specialists, have started a pilot project at HMPYOI Brinsford to help some of the most disadvantaged young offenders find work. The pilot will teach them how to grow their confidence in securing jobs in a variety of sectors, including retail and supply chains.

The College is one of the main providers of Offender Learning in England. Much of the work staff do in prisons is aimed at helping the learners with the most potential to have careers when they leave. This project is aimed at supporting those who may face barriers to employment because of their disability or health condition.

Carol Bettinson is Project Manager (Innovation & Development) for the College’s OLASS department and says it is the first time the college has entered into a partnership such as this in a Young Offenders’ Institution (YOI). “When we look for students to join our Employment Academies in adult prisons we concentrate on those with the greatest chance of success. We wanted to find a way to help some of the younger offenders for whom getting a job or embarking on a career sometimes seems like an impossibility.”

The students will spend six weeks learning about jobs in retail and the associated supply chain. They will be taught how the sector works as well as covering a variety of subjects to include wellbeing at work, effective communication, team working and customer service.

At the end of the course there will be a “Dragon’s Den” – style day involving team exercises and mock interviews with real employers including major High Street names. All of the young people who take part on the day will be guaranteed a real job interview on release with respective business partners.

PJ Butler, Governing Governor at HMPYOI Brinsford, says:

“Remploy’s mission is to transform the lives of disabled people and those experiencing complex barriers to work. Their mission synchronises perfectly with the prison’s and Milton Keynes College equalities agenda and rehabilitative culture for those in our care. I am delighted by the wonderful opportunities our new partnership brings for the residents at Brinsford to become law abiding active citizens on release.”

Carol says, “All the research shows that if an ex-offender can find work when they’re released the likelihood of them committing more crime is significantly reduced. These are young people used to thinking of themselves as being far removed from opportunities when it comes to jobs so it’s a tremendous opportunity for them and we are delighted to be working with Remploy.”

Adam Stubbs, Delivery Manager for Remploy says,

“At Remploy we are committed to breaking down barriers to employment for people with disabilities and health conditions, equipping them with the skills they need to find work. We are excited to be working with Milton Keynes College and our employer partners on this pilot to help young offenders access specialist support while at HMPYOI Brinsford and employment opportunities on release.”

The pilot project is being run at HMPYOI Brinsford in the West Midlands and is funded from the government contract the College receives for its Offender Learning work in twenty seven prisons across the Midlands and South of the country. If successful it is hoped it could be replicated elsewhere, giving greater prospects of work and career opportunities to disadvantaged young people.

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