From education to employment

‘Yorkshire Model’ success provides blueprint for supporting offenders from prison into jobs

Leading prison education provider Novus has increased the number of offenders moving directly into employment by 65% over three years across Yorkshire and the Humber by using an innovative new model

The number of prisoners moving into work or training upon completing their sentence has increased by 65% across Yorkshire and Humber over the last three years thanks to a pioneering new approach bringing together education and careers support.

Under the ‘Yorkshire Model’, Novus delivers education as well as employment support, making engagement between prisons and businesses easier while providing prisoners with a consistent team working with them from course delivery through to securing a job after their release. The employment outcomes of prisons utilising this joined-up approach are up to three times higher than those where these services are delivered by a range of different organisations.

According to the Ministry of Justice, prisoners who participate in an education programme while serving a sentence before progressing to employment or further training or education upon release are nearly 10% less likely to reoffend. The ‘Novus Works’ programme across Yorkshire is not only providing skilled workers for the local labour market but is playing a significant role in reducing reoffending, which costs the UK economy £18bn annually.

The ‘Yorkshire Model’ has been praised in Unlocking Aspiration, a new report by the Centre for Social Justice thinktank which outlines a series of measures needed to support more prisoners into work upon release.

Novus Manging Director Peter Cox commented:

“The positive impact that participating in education and training while completing a prison sentence has on reducing reoffending rates is long established, particularly when it leads to stable and meaningful employment upon release.

“As such it was clear to us that if the prison education sector was to be even more effective at helping to break cycles of reoffending and positively impacting the lives of ex-offenders, there needed to be stronger connections between the education that prisoners receive and the employment opportunities that exist in the labour market upon their release.

“By strengthening these links through greater collaboration and enhanced support for offenders upon their release in the Yorkshire region, we have been able to significantly increase the number of offenders who move into stable employment at the end of their sentence. We are looking forward to building upon this success and replicating the approach across further regions in which we operate.”

David (whose name has been changed to protect his identity) is a former prisoner who enrolled on a cookery course through Novus. This proved to be a life changing decision: thanks to the training he received as well as support from Novus after release, he secured a full-time job as a chef. Reflecting on his experience of education in prison, David said: “It was at this point that opportunities really started to arise for me. I really enjoyed the course and I was getting support from Novus to really give me confidence.

“When I was released, Novus came through for me and helped to set me up with interviews. I’ve been with various agencies before and that hasn’t really led me to work. But with Novus, they helped set up interviews and support me through them, right through to helping me secure work as a chef. It is a job that I really love.”

Leading pub retailer and brewer Greene King provides employment opportunities for prison leavers across the UK. Lynne Kennedy, the company’s talent development manager, said:

“We understand that everyone has a past, but regardless of background we want to help people build a successful career in the hospitality industry. We are proud to have now supported nearly 150 prison leavers into employment through our Releasing Potential programme and in June 2022, we committed to recruiting 300 more prison leavers into roles by 2025 as part of our Untapping Potential report.

“Novus is one of our key partners which provides the education and preparation for release across prisons within the Yorkshire region and is helping us to achieve our recruitment commitment. With their help, we continue working closely with each prison leaver we employ, offering tailored support, training and resources, helping them gain confidence, stability and an opportunity to build a sustainable career, contributing to reduction in reoffending.

“Our commitment to supporting rehabilitation of offenders continues to grow through establishing our first Greene King training kitchen within a London prison and participating in a new Apprenticeships for Prison Leavers scheme for which we are a pilot employer.”

A blueprint for employment upon release

Novus Works in Yorkshire and Humber supports offenders across the region to aspire for a positive future following release. This includes helping them develop the skills they need to start their journey while serving their sentence, as well as gaining the opportunities they need to launch a new career upon release.

The ‘Yorkshire Model’ sees Novus working collaboratively with employer partners to support individuals into work, providing them with the information, advice, guidance and support they need to recruit ex-offenders. The approach sees Novus work with employer partners to find the right candidate for their organisation and support both employer and candidate through the whole recruitment process from interview to placement, with ongoing support beyond the start date. 

In addition, Novus works in partnership with other education providers, training providers, charities and support agencies both in custody and in the community to support offenders into further training or education with a view to bringing them closer to the employment market.

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